Sigiriya Ruins & Site Information The Sigiriya Citadel Today
Opening Hours 7:00 AM – 5:30 PM (Last entry 5:00 PM)
Visit 3-4 hours for site tour
Climb 60-90 Minutes to the top
Refreshments Main Entrance (Bottled Water)
Exit (Juice Bar is Excellent)
Facilities Toilets at Main Entrance & Exit only
The Sigiriya Citadel, more commonly referred to as the Sigiriya Fortress, occupied an area of approximately two and a half kilometers in length by one kilometer in width.
Built around the massive 200 meter tall Sigiriya Rock it was constructed by King Kasyapa over 1600 years ago. At that time it was resplendent with gardens, ponds, pavilions and palaces. Its aesthetic elegance and grand vision sets it apart from all other historic sites in Sri Lanka and perhaps the world. It is today one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning in the world.
Surrounded by two moats and three ramparts, it was predominately as a royal residence, not as a fortress. Incorporated into its design were numerous passive defenses which while tactically impregnable were strategically vulnerable. An attacker merely had to lay siege and starve out its inhabitants.
The compound is divided into two precincts. The Western Precinct, located on the west side of the rock, occupied an area of approximately 56 hectares (138 acres). It is bisected into the northern and southern sectors by a broad boulevard that led from the main entrance toward the stairs and then to the Sky Palace on the summit. Each half follows an echo design. That is to say, each side is a duplicate of the other. The Eastern Precinct, located on the eastern side of the rock is today largely forested. No major archaeological ruins have been found there suggesting that the buildings in this area were predominately made of wood and were for the royal entourage.
The Western Precinct was the private preserve of the king, his harem and royal household. Incorporating formal and informal styles represented an idealized version of nature, a picturesque recreation of paradise. Eye-catching gardens, ponds palaces, pavilions, large and small, halls, gateways, galleries and towers were scattered throughout the landscape. These in turn lead to winding paths, natural boulders and slopes which were ingeniously incorporated to create a series of views and tableaus. Large staircases then lead to the Mirror Wall, the spectacularSigiriya Frescoes (which once covered the entire western face of the Sigiriya Rock), theLion Staircase and finally the breathtaking Sky Palace on top of this 200 meter high rock.