Sigiriya Rock Fortress - Discover Sri Lanka with Bruno

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Sigiriya is one of the most valuable historical monuments of Sri Lanka. Referred by locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World this ancient palace and fortress complex has significant archaeological importance and attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka.

The ancient rock fortress and palace of Sigiriya is one of the seven World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka. It has also been declared by UNESCO as the 8th Wonder of the world.

This fortified garden city of Sigiriya rock fortress is an exceptional master piece of ancient urban planning / landscape & architecture / construction technology /exceptional hydraulic engineering & management / ancient fine art with unique harmony between nature and human imagination and all these living examples proved that it was a Well Planned City & Palace in 5th Century AD. Sigiriya rock fortress is recognized as one of the best preserved surviving ancient urban sites in Asia from the 1st millennium or simply it’s a Living Museum.

Ancient Ruins in Sigiriya

According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kashyapa (477 – 495 AD) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure — Sīnhāgiri, the Lion Rock (an etymology similar to Sinhapura, the Sanskrit name of Singapore, the Lion City).

Sigiriya Frescoes

John Still in 1907 wrote, "The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery. the largest picture in the world perhaps". The paintings would have covered most of the western face of the rock, an area 140 metres long and 40 metres high. There are references in the graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings. However, most have been lost forever. More frescoes, different from those on the rock face, can be seen elsewhere, for example on the ceiling of the location called the "Cobra Hood Cave".

Bird's-eye view

Sigiriya is considered to be one of the most important urban planning sites of the first millennium, and the site plan is considered very elaborate and imaginative. The plan combined concepts of symmetry and asymmetry to intentionally interlock the man-made geometrical and natural forms of the surroundings. On the west side of the rock lies a park for the royals, laid out on a symmetrical plan; the park contains water-retaining structures, including sophisticated surface/subsurface hydraulic systems, some of which are working today. The south contains a man-made reservoir; these were extensively used from the previous capital of the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Five gates were placed at entrances. The more elaborate western gate is thought to have been reserved for the royals.

Sigiriya Lion's Paw

Perhaps the most iconic structure of the Sigiriya fortress, Lion’s Paws is situated just before the summit of Sigiriya Rock. As the name suggests, the structure is composed of two gigantic paws, flanking a staircase that leads to the royal palace.

Sigiriya Rock

Sigiriya consists of an ancient citadel built by King Kashyapa during the 5th century. The Sigiriya site contains the ruins of an upper palace located on the flat top of the rock, a mid-level terrace that includes the Lion Gate and the mirror wall with its frescoes, the lower palaces clings to the slopes below the rocks. The moats, walls and gardens of the palace extended for a few hundred metres from the base of the rock. The site was both a palace and a fortress. The upper palace on the top of the rock includes cisterns cut into the rock.

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