Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
GPS: 7.9593177271807, 80.761605843215
Located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, the Royal City of Sigiriya rock fortress (or Sinhagiri) is one of the most admirable natural and historical sites of Sinhalese civilization. Since the end of the 5th century, this ancient fortress has been based on a red stone monolith of almost 200 metres in height resulting from an ancient volcano. This flat-topped massive rock, perhaps billions of years old or at least reaching into ancient history, has a summit of Sigiriya which overlooks a thick surrounding jungle dotted with caves and lakes. Meaning the “Lion Rock” or “Lion’s rock” because of the enormous lion staircase carved into the base of the Sigiriya natural rock guarded by two lion paws at the lion gate where you enter the Sigiriya complex, the royal city of Sigiriya contained a complex of palaces, boulder gardens and terraced gardens of Sigiriya, the water garden, and defensive systems of great archaeological value. The astounding remains of the Sri Lankan palace seen by visitors to Sigiriya when they visit Sigiriya fortress on top of Sigiriya rock could be perhaps Sri Lanka’s eighth wonder of the world and is a Unesco world heritage site and a Sigiriya museum.
Built in just a few years under the reign of the self-proclaimed king Kashyapa I (or Kasyapa I from the Mauryan dynasty) who considered his descendant the rightful heir to the throne, the fortified city and royal palace of Sri Lanka Sigiriya rock fortress on top of the rock is one of the best preserved ancient sites in Asia. In addition to the fortress complex on top of the Sigiriya rock, it houses the former private residence of the monarch of the Anuradhapura Kingdom and its court. It is one of the first monarchies in the history of Sri Lanka founded in the 4th century BC by King Pandukabhaya in the Rajarata historic region (north-east province of the country). At its completion, the new citadel of Sigiriya included gardens, ramparts, ditches, ponds, fountains, swimming pools, white palaces, multicoloured pavilions and an underground irrigation system. Its dominant position at the top of the Lion Rock gives a clear view to defend against any external attack. Fitted out on several wall blank levels, a system of stairs, suspended walkways and a series of dizzying steps allow access to the site. They lead up from a giant lion statue from which the impressive legs of the feline remain, protector of the royal city of Sigiriya rock fortress built on rock Sigiriya with its upper palace on the top.
The archaeological site of Sigiriya, including the ruins of the royal palace which have collapsed long ago, is also renowned for its remarkably well-preserved wall Sigiriya frescoes or rock paintings. Many of them represent women who are slightly dressed or half naked. They could be courtesans of the monarch (1,000 according to legend) or, more likely, celestial nymphs (apsaras). Following the murder of King Kashyapa I by his brother Moggallana, Sigiriya rock fortress city was stripped of its richness before being converted into a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. It is then completely abandoned and quickly finds itself overwhelmed by vegetation. Rediscovered centuries later, the ruins of the royal city of Sigiriya the lion rock were the subject of initial archaeological excavations by the British in the 1800s and were restored by the State of Sri Lanka in the mid-twentieth century. Only 20% of the ancient royal city of Sri Lanka Sigiriya history would not be visible today according to archaeologists who have studied features of Sigiriya Lion Rock when they pay a visit to Sigiriya Sri Lanka in trying to understand the history of Sigiriya rock fortress and the remains of the palace.