Sri Lanka’s Most Fantastic Single Wonder
Sigiriya, a huge monolithic column of rock rising 200 meters above the surrounding plains, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This “Fortress in the Sky” is perhaps Sri Lanka’s most fantastic single wonder. Sigiriya is also known as “Lion Rock” because of the huge lion carved into the rock at the stairway entrance to the rock’s summit. Surrounding Sigiriya is the best-preserved city of the first millennium CE and one of the oldest tourist sites in the world.
Back in the 5th century, there was a prince who murdered his father so he could become king. Afraid his surviving brother would seek vengeance, the prince ordered the construction of his royal city around the base of the rock and his royal palace on the summit. In just seven years, the entire Sigiriya rock fortress was completed with a sophisticated system of irrigation and terraced gardens throughout.
Today, the top of Sigiriya rock is an archeological site containing the foundations of the ancient citadel, water storage tanks, terraced gardens and guardhouses perched along the edges. Along the stairway access to the summit, there are shining examples of secular Sinhala artwork in the form of painted frescoes of celestial maidens. The color and detail of these ancient rock paintings are amazing. The area surrounding the base of the rock fortress also includes water gardens, fountains that still spurt water (after 1500 years!), boulder gardens and caves.