Old Nupe Market (Matara)

Old Nupe Market, Matara
The Old Nupe Market (Sinhala: මාතර පැරණි නූපේ වෙළඳ ගොඩනැගිල්ල) is a historic building situated in Matara town, Sri Lanka. The building is located at the Nupe junction on Nilwala Bypass road about 2 km distance from the Matara Bus station.

The British constructed this building during their colonial period to be used as a marketplace (Abeyawardana, 2004; Wikramaratne, 2015). 

The construction of markets became a usual urban tradition since the beginning of the colonial period. During the British occupation, markets were built in several main towns in the country such as Colombo, Galle, and Jaffna. The Welekade Market at Badulla (built in 1889) and the vegetable market at Galle (built-in 1890) provide evidence that the British had started to build markets around the country during the late 19th century. The old Nupe market at Matara is thought to be a contemporary work of the Welekade market.

The building was conserved in the 1980s by the Urban Development Authority and again in the 1990s by the Department of Archaeology. The most recent conservation was done in 2014, by the Archaeological Department.

The Nupe market has been built in the shape of the English letter "T" and is an open structure (Abeyawardana, 2004; Wikramaratne, 2015). The front section of the building (the upper bar of the letter "T") is about 200 ft long and runs parallel with the road (Wikramaratne, 2015). In the middle of it is a wooden portico providing the entrance to the building. The back section of the building is about 100 ft long and the width of the total building is 30 ft (Wikramaratne, 2015).

The roof of the market building is paved with Kandyan Period clay tiles (Peti-ulu) and supported by several large circular pillars (Abeyawardana, 2004). The pillars are about 10 ft. 10 in. tall and not bonded with walls. The supporting wooden frame of the roof has been elaborated and edged with lavish latticework. The three small wooden spires which are rising from the roof of the front section are considered a peculiar feature.

1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. p.68.
2) Wikramaratne, I., 2015. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Matara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-54-2. p.61.

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This page was last updated on 22 June 2022

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