Overview

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a circus is “A rounded open space in a town or city where several streets converge”. Lipton Circus (also called the De Soysa Circus or Eye Hospital Junction) is the oldest circus in Colombo and the most famous circus. Seven roads converge in this place; it’s well known for its political marches and demonstrations and a number of prominent buildings are positioned along this roundabout, such as the 200 years old Baptist Church. Actually the building on this spot dates back to 1878, but the Baptist community was founded in Princess Street in Pettah in 1813. Immediately behind the church is the small Muslim community which was mentioned at the Dewatagaha Mosque. Earlier there was an entrance to this community from Lipton Circus, but that has now been closed. The circus has been named after the famous Scottish tea merchant Sir Thomas Lipton (1848 – 1931), who came to Sri Lanka in 1890 to promote Ceylon tea in Europe and the USA. He built his head office on this place, but currently the building is owned by United Motors (Pvt) Ltd. Moreover, a prominent landmark of the roundabout is the Victoria Memorial Eye Hospital, an eye catching architectural monument, sponsored by the philanthropist Charles Hendry de Soysa, whose statue is positioned in the middle of the circus. The hospital which was built in Hindu-Saracenic style with red and yellow bricks and topped with several small domes was inaugurated in 1905, but since the opening of the new General Hospital behind it no more in use. Finally there is the flagship of the Odel outlets at Alexandra Place. Established in 1999 in a colonial building, being the first department store in Sri Lanka it is now a tourist destination in itself. 

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