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Declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, Sigiriya serves as a fine example of ancient urban planning. Sigiriya is a significant site of the Cultural Triangle and perhaps Sri Lanka’s most iconic historical destination. The site, also known as Lion Rock, is recognized all over the world for the remains of the ancient Sigiriya Rock Fortress and its numerous enchanting and well-preserved attractions. The complex hydraulics system at the fortress enhances the site’s reputation as a beautiful example of classical city planning.
It is located in the Matale district in the centre near the town called Dambulla. According to history, this site was chosen by the king Kasyapa to serve as his new capital. There is a huge gateway shaped like a lion and the place derives its name from this gateway. This place served as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.
The fortress complex, constructed in the 5th century, includes attractions such as the royal gardens, one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world, and the Mirror Wall, which is adorned with ancient graffiti. The highlight of the fortress is the colourful frescoes painted on the western face of the rock; it is believed that there were initially 500 such frescoes, but merely around 22 of them remain today. The gigantic Lion’s Paws greet visitors before the summit. At the peak are the ruins of the royal palace of King Kashyapa I, and 360-degree panoramas of the surrounding landscape. Sigiriya Museum at the foot of the rock has a plethora of artefacts related to Sigiriya on display for visitors seeking information regarding the site’s history.
Another interesting archaeological site located nearby is Pidurangala, which houses the remains of a cave temple complex. Hiking to the summit of Pidurangala Rock offers stunning views of the Sigiriya Rock.
Visit Sigiriya and explore the opulence, might and sophistication of the ancient kingdoms of Sri Lanka.