Thousands of people lined up for hours in the Colombo midday sun for an unprecedented glimpse of one of the country’s most powerful buildings, the official presidential residence.

Lines snaked around the block. Some people told us they had been waiting for over six hours to get in.

The city has never seen anything like it.

The president’s house has become the palace of the people and they revel in the moment.

Crowds throng around the pool, and families climb the grand staircase to the second floor to admire the massive chandelier, comfy sofas, and pool table.

Here we meet Niranji Perena. She brought her teenage daughter to the big house for the past two days.

Ms Perena told Sky News she was disgusted to see the waste and expense here while ordinary Sri Lankans are suffering.

She accuses the Rajapaksa political dynasty of having the economic collapse of the country.

“They have ruined our country beyond repair,” she said. “We voted for them first, but they took huge loans from China and I don’t think they planned to pay them back.”

Ms. Perena recalled her vacation in Europe. Today, the family can no longer afford fuel, even if it was available.

She walked two miles to visit the President’s house.

In another wing, a group of protest leaders protects the president’s room.

Read more: Protesters swim in Sri Lankan president’s pool – and warn they will stay until he leaves office

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Crowds flocked to the presidential building to see the wealth on display inside
Photos to go with Nicole Johnston Sri lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa Presidential House eyewitness

With its high ceilings and four-poster bed, it stands as a symbol of the extreme chasm between the rich and powerful and the poor.

The president had a large marble bathroom and an outdoor jacuzzi.

The protesters do not allow the general public into this part of the building. They say it must be preserved for the next ruler of the country.

“People have no food or electricity”

Angelo Kulasooriya says the house belongs to future generations.

He adds that the first time he saw the room, it made him angry.

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Inside the Presidential Palace of Sri Lanka

“People outside are suffering without electricity,” he said. “People don’t have food. They don’t have fuel.”

Protestors and massive crowds who have come to visit the President’s house feel they are about to win this battle to rid the country of Rajapaksas.

At the weekend, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced that he would step down on Wednesday.

Photos to go with Nicole Johnston Sri lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa Presidential House eyewitness
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Angelo Kulasooriya said he was angry when he saw inside the residence

Read more:
Inside the Presidential Palace of Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan President and Prime Minister resign

And on Monday, cabinet members announced they would also step down once a multiparty government is formed.

This would pave the way for the appointment of a new prime minister.

People are calling for the resignation of the current Prime Minister, Ranil Wickramasinghe.

If the president and prime minister both step down, many Sri Lankans will feel that months of ongoing hardship and protests will not have been entirely wasted.

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