Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the Matale district near Dambulla town in the Central Province. The name refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 metres high. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle, the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kashyapa (477- 495 CE) as his new capital. He built his palace on top of the rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes. On a small plateau about halfway up the side of this rock he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure – Sinhagiri, the Lion Rock. The capital and the royal palace was abandoned after the King’s death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. Sigiriya today is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the best preserved exhibits of ancient urban planning.
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