The rock fortress of the mighty King Kasyapa who created both legend and lore with the help of this mighty citadel. Inside is a world of elaborate constructions, beautiful frescos and countless stories of the God King, his people and his City in the Sky.Sigiriya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located approximately 170km away from Colombo. This 5th Century “Fortress in the Sky” which is perhaps the most fantastic single wonder of the island is considered as the 8th wonder of the world by many, for various reasons. It is also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the Palace at the summit of the 600-foot high rock.This spectacular rock fortress was built in the 5th century AD by King Kassapa as his well protected castle complex after killing his father, King Datusena and taking over the throne.
He built 3 moats and 3 ramparts around the fortress (still to be seen) to protect the castle, fearing his half-brother Prince Moggallana the actual heir to the throne will return from exile with an army to claim his rightful throne.At the foot of the rock on the west side of the fortress is the Pleasure Gardens, which could be enjoyed even by visitors unable to climb up the rock. The Gardens consist of the miniature water garden, the main bathing ponds with pavilions, the summerhouses, the fountain garden, and the boulder gardens including the caves. The large number of boulders on both sides of the staircase was utilized for building guardhouses that stopped any enemy trying to go up evading the steps.
The famous paintings, commonly known as Sigiriya Frescos are considered the most beautiful paintings in Sri Lanka and still after 15 centuries the colours are bright and shining like recently drawn paintings. The 20 paintings still to be seen today are the figures of beautiful ladies carrying flowers in their hands or in flower baskets, bedecked with jewellery and with transparent clothing for the upper part of the body. It is believed that more than 500 paintings of similar ladies were originally drawn covering a large area of the west side of the rock, creating the largest ever mural attempted by mankind.
Another wonderful creation in Sigiriya is the Mirror Wall. More than 1300 verses written on a polished surface by the visitors to Sigiriya are still to be seen unharmed. This graffiti dates from the 5th – 13th Century, where the visitors to Sigiriya have recorded their experiences and thoughts inspired by seeing the beautiful ladies of the Sigiriya Frescos. The remains of the front paws of a crouching lion are found in the landing area after the Mirror Wall. The entrance to the Palace area was through the mouth of the lion (Sinha Giri) and after climbing a staircase in the body of the lion, people had gone to the top of the rock climbing the steps cut into it.
The remains of the Royal Palace, with two water tanks to collect water and the remains of the foundation of a small Dagoba (Stupa) are found on the summit, 600 feet above.