Sitawaka was situated east of Colombo on the road to Kandy. Together with Hanwella it lay on the all-important route linking the mountain region with the coast. Raja Sinha, the king of Kandy, used Sitawaka as a base for his attacks on the enemy Portuguese. Towards the end of the 16th century Sitiwaka's beautiful palaces and temples were razed to the ground by Azevedo, a Portuguese general. Around 1595 the Portuguese built a small fort here. After the VOC wrested power from the Portuguese, the Company built a stronger fort not far distant from the Portuguese castle. When relations with the king of Kandy deteriorated, this fort offered protection against the armies of the king. But Sitawaka also functioned as a halfway house, offering hospitality to VOC ambassadors en route to visit the King of Kandy. Their annual visits to the King of Kandy were major undertakings due to the size of the entourage and the large number of gifts for the monarch. After the fort at Hanwella was reinforced in 1685 the Company left Sitawaka.