There is nothing left of the Kayman’s Gate today. It was situated on what is now the busy roundabout where the Main Street ends and the Dam Street starts. Kayman’s Gate was built by the Portuguese as the eastgate to Pettah, which at that time was a residential quarter of Fort. Kayman’s Gate was also used as an execution place by Dutch and Portuguese colonizers. The defense wall was a barrier connecting the ocean with the Beira Lake. The St. John’s Canal was a part of the barrier. All surrounding moats and the Beira Lake were filled with crocodiles (caymans); citizens used to throw their garbage in the canal near the gate, attracting many crocodiles, which explains the name Kayman’s Gate. Finally, around 1865 the St. John’s Canal was filled by the British (the name Dam Street reminds of this event) and the barrier been removed. There was no more gate; just the belfry.


The belfry (Bell Tower) has a long history, but it is hardly being known by the public. The bell was found by the Dutch among the ruins of the St. Francis Church in Kotte, built by the Portuguese. Kotte was once the capital of the kingdom of Kotte, but destroyed and abandoned in 1565 by the Portuguese. The Dutch rebuilt the city and brought the bell to Kayman’s Gate. It was used as a curfew bell to announce the opening and closing of the gate and to turn the lights off. After demolishing the gate, the bell was given to the Wolvendaal Church, but it remained in the same place and was used to summon the community to come to church; the bell tower has been demolished recently, but it is unknown where the bell currently is. 

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