This may have been a mispronunciation of Thurai, which is the Tamil word for "Ferry". In , the Dutch recaptured Matara Fort, without any significant resistance. In the Portuguese called the town "Maturai", which means a great fortress. The date on the doorway refers to the reconstruction following the Matara Rebellion.
The temple in the middle of the town is also built by ancient kings, and now it is a very popular sacred place among the Buddhists in the area. The ethnic majority of Matara is Sinhalese; during the 16th and 17th centuries Moors arrived in the area as traders from Arabia. In , the Dutch recaptured Matara Fort, without any significant resistance. It is a major commercial hub, and it is the administrative capital of Matara District. The present name of "Matara," however, has been in used for the last three centuries, relating to the town's connection with the Nilwala River. Matara was previously called Mahathota. Matara was the second most important fort, behind Galle fort , for the southern maritime provinces of the Dutch and a commanding base for some inland forts. The fort was constructed by the Dutch following the Matara rebellion in , to protect the main fort from attacks originating from the river. Out of these, Matara District covered the largest area essentially the whole of the Southern Province up to the Kaluganga River. In the fort was ceremoniously handed over to the British. The lighthouse in Point Dondra was built by the Dutch, and it is considered one of the most beautiful and oldest lighthouses in Sri Lanka. The two fortresses, the Matara fort and the Star fort , that were built by the Dutch can be found in the city. Old Nupe Market was constructed in by the Dutch, about 3. The date on the doorway refers to the reconstruction following the Matara Rebellion. In the Portuguese called the town "Maturai", which means a great fortress. In the 16th and 18th centuries, Matara was ruled by the Portuguese and the Dutch respectively. Hence, the town was called Maha Thota which was derived from the Sanskrit word Maha Theertha, which means "the great ferry". The Dutch and English culture and architecture can still be seen throughout the area. The temple is set in attractive gardens and houses numerous statues of Buddha and a replica of the alleged footprint found on Adam's Peak. This may have been a mispronunciation of Thurai, which is the Tamil word for "Ferry". It was extensively remodeled in , following the recapture of the fort in Today their descendants coexist with Sinhalese peacefully as an ethnic minority. The Nilwala River runs through Matara and there was a wide area where ferries used to cross. Weherahena temple The most famous thinkers who lived in the area are Kumaratunga Munidasa and Gajaman Nona. Construction of the unique star-shaped fort was completed in The fort, which consists of a large stone rampart , occupies the promontory , which separates the Niwala River lagoon and the ocean.
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