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The Ancient City of Sigiriya holds the ruins of a former Sinhalese capital, including a rock fortress and palace. At the end of the 5th century, this enormous complex was constructed by Prince Kasyapa. Being in fear of an invasion, he tried to make it as impenetrable as possible.

The site is also known as Lions Rock. At the level below the top, two very big lions claws give way to the final and most important stage of the complex, the palace. According to old descriptions, in the past you had to walk through the wide-open mouth of a lion to get there.

Halfway on Sigiriya-rock, you can see very special mural paintings. They are non-religious representations of women, of which some have been preserved very well. Some sources even say that the whole western face of the rock used to be covered with these paintings (of 500 women).

Visit August 1996

The site in total is quite an experience. First you have to climb a number of stairs. You walk past the paintings of the women, an awesome sight in itself. Then you reach a platform where you can take a rest before the real hard work starts: between the claws of a lion an iron ladder reaches steeply upwards along the rock.

Finally, on top of the rock, you see the site where the palace of the Prince used to stand (now only the ruins are left).


Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
Sigiriya was the most impacting UNESCO site that I visited in Sri Lanka during my two weeks stay in that country.
Just the vision of the rock subjugated me and although I did not have much money I felt that I could not leave Sri Lanka without visiting that place.
And that was what I did. There were groups of foreigners, mainly from Europe, in line to climb the place. I was the only individual tourist.
I enjoyed the delicacy of the mural paintings and everything inside, but most of all I loved the rock itself with the forms of claws of lion at the entrance. Sigiriya was, without doubt, the most remarkable tourist attraction that I visited in Sri Lanka during my first journey to that country, back in the year 1989.
Date posted: April 2014
gconeyhiden (USA):
As of Jan. 2012 the Cultural Triangle Pass which cost $50.00 U.S. and was good for The World Heritage Sites was discontinued leaving the individual sites on per site ticket basis. Sigiriya admission is $30.00 If you chose to leave by the admission gate for rest spell at the air conditioned museum they will not let you re-enter. The ticket says good for one day but only if you make it good. All the food and beverage stalls are located at the parking area so if your going to spend all day here and want food do not exit the admission gate. Sigiriya is an interesting site although its mostly just ruins around and on top of a hugh rock. Giant lion's claws greet the visitor half way up. The awesome head of this lion grand strairway entrance now is long gone. Before you get to this site you are funneled past the well preserved wall paintings of buxom maidens still in full color. This is a sight to see considering their skillful handling and preservation. People who are afraid of heights may not be crazy about going to the top. The steel constructed stairway in the rock is safe enough and well maintained and the views from the top are worth the effort. Wild elephants sometimes frequent the circle road area around the rock and Languar monkeys also live in the forest around the rock.
Date posted: October 2012
Rob Wilson (UK):
A magnificent place! The frescos are just wonderful.
Date posted: July 2008
Johan en Ans Schouten (The Netherlands):
We've been visiting (group of 20 people) Sri Lanka for 3 weeks in December 2007! An absolutely beautiful country with great places to visit. Unfortunately we were often the only tourists at those fantastic heritage places. People stay away because they are afraid of the Tamil war and to be honest there were many road blokkades on our trip to find. We haven't felt in danger though, not for one minute! Our guide kept in daily contact with his office so we were in perfect safe hands. The Sigiriya rock took our breath away. It was raining cats and dogs that day which made the rock look very colourful. The view from the top was absolutely fantastic even it was hidden behind a curtain of rain! The history of the rock is fascinating.
Sri Lanka is a country with loads of heritage places and lots of different landscapes.
Date posted: June 2008
Janaka Priyalal ():
It's a GREAT place. Unbelievable, visit & BELIEVE...
Date posted: September 2006
Dominique Deschamps (France):
Hello, i am curently gathering information about world heritage project SIRIGIYA. We may have some initiative to support the fundraising period with the internet.
Date posted: June 2006
lumbini (sri lanka):
The 'frescoes' and the 'graffitti' on the mirror wall are a treat. Initially there have been about 500 frescoes of the sigiriya maidens. But unfortunately the numbers have been reduced to many reasons.
The climb up is a bit tedious, but don't miss it, you'll be rewarded
Gayan (srilanka):
It's the best place to visit if you come down to srilanka.

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Site info

Ancient City of Sigiriya
Country: Sri Lanka
Inscribed: 1982
Cultural Heritage
Criteria:  (2) (3) (4)
Category: Religious structure, Buddhist

Site history:
1982 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription

Site links

Official website:
»Sri Lanka Travel

In the news:
» Sri Lanka to sue ad firm over beer commercial (06-06-2013).
» Students vandalised and totally disfigured the ‘Lion's Paw’ in Sigiriya (26-03-2013).
» Canopy to shade damaged part of lion foot entrance at Sigiriya (29-10-2012).
» Sri Lanka police arrested a person who attempted to scribble his name on the Mirror Wall of Sigiriya (06-06-2012).
» There's a storm raging in Sri Lanka over the depigmentation of ancient frescoes in the rock fortress of Sigiriya (29-08-2010).
» An insect menace in Sigiriya ancient rock fortress in Sri Lanka has sparked controversy with the environmentalists and authorities arguing over the removal of wasps (16-05-2010).
» State-of-the-art Sigiriya Museum and Information Centre -- having as its backdrop the formidable rock fortress – to be opened shortly (31-05-2009).
» Wasp attacks injure 53 at Sigiriya rock fortress (31-03-2009).
» Sigiriya sound and light show off/on (30-11-2008).

Related links:
» Sigiriya, the eighth wonder of the world.

Getting there

This WHS has 1 location(s).


Gates depicting Lions .
Inselbergs .
Volcanic plugs .
Human Activity
Irrigation and drainage . Writing systems .
Built in the 5th century .
Located in a Former Capital . More than 500 steps/stairs to climb .
WHS Hotspots
Central Sri Lanka hotspot .

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