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Sigirya Rock Fortress

A rock citadel floating in the sky. Sounds like a fairy tale? Not quite. At the brief height of its glory, Sigiriya was a royal citadel for more than 18 years, from 477 to 495 CE. Sigiriya, or Lion’s Rock has been declared by UNESCO as one of the seven World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka and is one of the finest examples of a rock fortress.

At Sigiriya are the ruins of an ancient palace complex built during the reign of King Kasyapa. The most distinctive landmark within the ancient palace grounds is the amazing Sigiriya Rock, also called Lion Rock. Visitors to the palace have to enter through a stone stairway that takes them into the lion’s mouth and through its throat. Only the lion’s massive paws remain today, but they indicate how gigantic the rest of the carving must have been.

Sigiriya Rock lies on a steep mound that rises over the otherwise flat plains, and is itself a further 370 metres tall. Standing tall over the surrounding plains, it offers splendid views for miles in all directions. Sigiriya Rock may have been in use since prehistoric times. It was already a rock-shelter monastery from about the 3rd century BCE. Later, King Kasyapa built the garden and palace around it and transformed this rock into a legend. The engineering, ingenuity, and creativity required to create this landmark still impress today's visitors. The ancient king's Upper Palace is located at the flat top of Sigiriya Rock. On the middle terrace is the Lion Gate and the Mirror Wall, with its frescoes. The king's Lower Palace clings to the slopes below the rock. The moats, walls and gardens of the palace extend for a few hundreds metres from the base of the rock. Sophisticated city planning was at the heart of Sigiriya.

Be ready for an exciting adventure. Sigiriya is about an hour’s climb and is a fascinating and unique travel experience. Sigiriya is 169km from Colombo.