Magazine Sunday Observer 08 February, 1998 Closenberg is a marvellous place to rest, dine and wine By Susanne Loos-Jayawickreme
This old colonial mansion in Galleis possibly one of the best preserved in Sri Lanka. Entering this huge milk-white building it's spacious verandahs are tempting to relax in the authentic chairs from the 19th century. Lovely pergolas covered with red bougainvillaeas as are framing the well-kept garden overlooking the ocean.
Wherever you look you will notice the traditional emblem of the P & O Company, the "rising sun". It is carved in the original furnitures, in the ornamental lintels over the doorways and windows, and this sun beams under the restaurant ceiling as well.
The history of this charming mansion is fascinating as well. The Dutch have built a fortress on an island at the entrance of the Galle Bay, when they have taken over Galle from the Portuguese in the early 18th century. They have named it Closenberg. The Sinhalese called it the New Port or Aluth Kotuwa. This new port has fallen into abandonment and ruin by time. Captain Bailey arrived in Galle as an agent for P & O in 1859. As soon as he discovered the disused fort, he immediately bought it from the British Crown. The Captain built the manor and named the enchanting house after his wife Marina as "Villa Marina". In 1880 Captain Bailey settled down in Colombo and sold the house to the P & O Company. After some time the Perera Abeywardena family bought the historical spot and changed the name into Closenberg. Today the building still belongs to this old Galle family. Managing Director Kumar Perera Abeywardena is the owner and proprietor of the hotel. He is a direct descendant of the first Sri Lankan owner of Closenberg.
The name "Closenberg" itself is still the big question