Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress Sigiriya Ruins & Site Information


Sigiriya Today

Sigiriya rock fortress was built by King Kasyapa 1,600 years ago. It was the largest and most sophisticated single construction project ever undertaken by the ancient Sri Lankans. The ruins of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress seen today are less than twenty percent of the structures that once graced the royal citadel. The city that surrounded it has disappeared almost completely. Most buildings were made of wood. Consequently, there is very little evidence of these structures. Those built with stone and brick have survived the ravages of time and provide us a rare glimpse of the opulence and grandeur of an ancient era. Many ruins still lay hidden in the forest and are yet to be discovered.

It is difficult for a modern tourist to comprehend the absolute splendor of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress 1,600 years ago. Few ancient cities surpassed it for its ecologically-sensitive, grand vision and aesthetic elegance. It is one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning in the world.

Imagine this was a magical place; an earthly paradise of lush gardens, ponds, fountains, and brightly colored pavilions. Its centerpiece was a huge rock which appears as though it were a large cloud tethered to earth festooned with a spectacular work of art, the Sigiriya Frescoes, leading the traveler up to the Lion Gate, an entryway in the form of a ferocious lion which harked up to a Sky Palace on top of the 200 meter tall rock.

The Site

The Sigiriya Citadel, more commonly referred to as the Sigiriya Fortress, occupied an area of approximately two and a half kilometers in length by one kilometer in width.

Built around the massive 200 meter tall Sigiriya Rock over 1600 years ago, it was resplendent with gardens, ponds, pavilions and palaces. Its aesthetic elegance and grand vision sets it apart from all other historic sites in Sri Lanka and perhaps the world. It is today one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning in the world.

Surrounded by two moats and three ramparts, it was predominately as a royal residence, not as a fortress. Incorporated into its design were numerous passive defenses which while tactically impregnable were strategically vulnerable.

Entrance Fees

$30 - Foreigners
(Rs50 - locals)

Opening Hours

7:00 AM – 5:30 PM
(Last entry 5:00 PM)

Visit

3-4 hours for site tour

Climbing Time

60-90 Minutes to the top

Refreshments

Main Entrance
(Bottled Water)
Exit
(Juice Bar is Excellent)

Toilets

Main Entrance & Exit only
(No toilets on site)

The compound is divided into two precincts. The Western Precinct, located on the west side of the rock, occupied an area of approximately 56 hectares (138 acres). It is bisected into the northern and southern sectors by a broad boulevard that led from the main entrance toward the stairs and then to the Sky Palace on the summit. Each half follows an echo design. That is to say, each side is a duplicate of the other. The Eastern Precinct, located on the eastern side of the rock is today largely forested. No major archaeological ruins have been found there suggesting that the buildings in this area were predominately made of wood and were for the kings entourage and courtiers.

The Western Precinct was the private preserve of the king, his harem and royal household. Incorporating formal and informal styles represented an idealized version of nature, a picturesque recreation of paradise. Eye-catching gardens, ponds palaces, pavilions, large and small, halls, gateways, galleries and towers were scattered throughout the landscape. These in turn lead to winding paths, natural boulders and slopes which were ingeniously incorporated to create a series of views and tableaus. Large staircases then lead to the Mirror Wall, the spectacular Sigiriya Frescoes (which once covered the entire western face of the Sigiriya Rock), the Lion Staircase and finally the breathtaking Sky Palace on top of this 200 meter high rock.

No holiday to Sri Lanka would be complete without a visit to Sigiriya - Kasyapa's masterpiece.

Related Article: Sigiriya - Sri Lanka: Attractions, Things To Do, Hotels, History


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