Ancient City of Sigiriya (1982)
Sri Lanka

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The ruins of the capital built by the parricidal King Kassapa I (47795) lie on the steep slopes and at the summit of a granite peak standing some 370 m high (the 'Lion's Rock', which dominates the jungle from all sides). A series of galleries and staircases emerging from the mouth of a gigantic lion constructed of bricks and plaster provide access to the site. 

Sri Lanka 1999. Excavations in Sri Lanka under the UNESCO-program for World Cultural Heritage.

In a sheltered pocket on the western face of the Sigiriya rock, approached by a spiral stairway, are the famous frescoes. Epigraphical evidence refers to the existence of 500 such portraits, but only 19 remain today. 

The pleasure garden of the western side of the rock is studded with ponds, islets, promenades and pavilions. Some underground and surface drainage systems have been discovered during excavations. The wall abutting the moat encircling the fortress is one of the most arresting features. 

  • Sri Lanka 1999. Excavations in Sri Lanka under the UNESCO-program for World Cultural Heritage. 

On the western and northern sides of the steep rock face runs a gallery or pathway which provides access to the seemingly inaccessible summit. Shielding this pathway is a 9 1/2 ft. plaster wall, so highly polished, that even today, after fifteen centuries of exposure to sun, wind and rain, one can see one's reflection in it. Hence the name "Mirror Wall". The summit of the rock, with an area of nearly one hectare, was the site of the old palace - the outer wall of which was built on the very brink of the precipice. There were gardens, cisterns and ponds laid out attractively. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Sri Lanka section, for further information on the individual properties. 

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus
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