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Sigiriya the Lion Fortress

Easily one of Sri Lanka's most prominent and well-known attractions, Sigiriya – known as the Rock Fortress or the Lion Mountain – declared to be the Eighth Wonder of the World by UNESCO, is also one of Sri Lanka's eight World Heritage Sites. A popular tourist destination, the ancient rock citadel is a fortress and palace ruin located in Central Sri Lanka encircled by the ruins of a vast network of water gardens, pathways, reservoirs and other structures.

The complex consists of the central rock rising 200 meters above the adjacent plain and the entrance to the climb once has been through a lion’s head of which only the huge paws remain today. 

It is surrounded by two moats and three ramparts, displaying the grandeur and complexity of urban planning in 5th century Sri Lanka. The country’s ancient architectural tradition is well portrayed at Sigiriya, the best preserved city centre in Asia from the first millennium and the rock may have even been inhabited through prehistoric times. Interestingly, the gardens of Sigiriya are one of the most important aspects of the site as one the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.

Sigiriya was used as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 5th century BC, with caves prepared and donated by devotees of the Buddhist Sangha.

Furthermore, the site is renowned for its ancient frescoes; the oldest surviving murals of beautifully painted maidens whose existence is a mystery to this day. The gigantic rock fortress was once inhabited by one of the kings of Sri Lanka, a saga that is well-documented in Sri Lankan history.

A must-see location in the country, the site receives visitors, both foreign and local, all year round and is a vital part of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle which showcases some of Asia’s richest archaeological heritage sites.

 

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