With old ship’s cannons flanking the entrance, the Maritime Museum is housed in a former Dutch prison that was built in the last 1600s. It lies adjacent to the SambothiChaitya temple grounds, and is maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. Inside, an exhibition charts the history of maritime travel and trade in Sri Lanka, starting from the 5th century BC when Prince Vijaya from south India is believed to have landed on the island with his followers.
Painting depicting important maritime events adorn the wall and model exhibits of sailing ships are also showcased. In addition, the museum houses sculptures of prominent historical figures, notably Sri Lanka kings, artifacts relating to the working of the port and various objects used by lighthouse keepers, pirates and sailors. The old, cumbersome diving suit on display will make visitors appreciate the sleek modern-day gear.