Sigriya rises up 200 m from the plains of central Sri Lanka. This flat topped monolith is both a natural wonder and one of Sri Lanka’s most fascinating archaeological sites. Sigiriya, which translates as the Lion Rock, served as a mountain monastery from about the 5th century BC and became a rock fortress during the reign of King Kasyapa (477 – 495 AD). Kasyapa built a fortress and palace high up on the rock and decorated much of the western face with frescos. At the base of the rock he built a network of ‘Pleasure Gardens’ and an artificial lake which were linked by a series of moats and underground waterways. The most significant feature of Sigiriya would have been the Lion staircase that led from the gardens to the summit. After King Kasyapa's death, the fortress became a monastery complex which was abandoned in the 14th century. Today Sigriya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Sri Lanka's most famous landmark. A climb to the top is a highlight of a Sri Lanka holiday as you are rewarded with panoramic views of the countryside.
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