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Tourist attractions Sri Lanka

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  • 1 Anuradhapura Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    Anuradhapura, the capital of Ceylon, was founded in the 4C B.C. by the Sons of the Lion and abandoned in the 10C, and was established on a cutting from the Buddha's "Tree of Enlightenment". Its remains, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, ar..

  • 2 Anuradhapura: Jetavanarama Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    A perfect example of Buddhist and Singhalese monastic architecture, the Temple of Jetavanarama (3C A.D.) dominates the holy city ofAnuradhapura with its huge dagoba, a dome of extraordinary proportions and workmanship, made with a staggering quantity..

  • 3 Anuradhapura : Abhayagiriya Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    The remains of the Abhayagiriya stupa are among the most well-known from the ancient capital and contain sculpted treasures. The Abhayagiriya triggered the decline of the Thuparama, the first of the three monastic complexes at Anuradhapura. The Buddh..

  • The ancient Singhalese kings housed and venerated the Buddha's Tooth, the symbol of their power, in the quadrangle formed by the terrace of the Tooth Relic. The ruins of an amazingly dense complex are assembled within this area of the walled city of ..

  • Gal Vihara, a temple outside the walls of Polonnaruwa, houses colossal rock effigies of the Buddha, a treasure house of sculptures. One is seated on a throne, another is under a parasol, a third is standing with his arms crossed, and the last one is ..

  • 6 Sigiriya Hanging Palace Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Archaeological and historical sites

    Kasyapa the parricidal king built a citadel, a capital, a palace and hanging gardens out of the red rock of Sigiriya. Go early to climb up this eyrie built in the 5C. Highlights include the Damsel Frescoes and the panoramic view of the terraced garde..

  • Horton Plains, saved from development thanks to its altitude (2,000 m), is a must for hikers, with meadows, forests, boulders and clear streams. The plateau comes to an end at the World's End precipice affording a vast panorama of the tea plantations..

  • 8 Kataluva Purvarama Monastery Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    The paintings (1880) at Kataluva Purvarama Monastery, built in 1840, are a brilliant continuation of the great narrative and pedagogical tradition in Buddhist painting - a true pictorial, chromatic and iconographic masterpiece, and a remarkable use o..

  • 9 Polonnaruwa Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Archaeological and historical sites

    The vast and ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the capital of the Singhalese kingdom after the fall of Anuradhapura, is best to explore by bike. In the 12C Parakrama the Great harnessed water from the river and every last drop of rain to create a magnific..

  • 10 Colombo National Museum Recommended Recommended

    Museums and art

    Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha

    Colombo National Museum is Sri Lanka's most important museum. The country's cultural heritage is displayed in this elegant colonial building inaugurated in 1877, featuring statues, paintings, toys, costumes and - the highlight - ritual masks and a ga..

  • 11 Munneswaram Temple Recommended Recommended

    Religious buildings

    Shiva teaches wisdom, Durga tames brute force and Vishnu is the protector here at Munneswaram Temple, one of the great Shivaite sanctuaries of Sri Lanka. It is a sculptural testimony to the medieval Hindu art of the Pandya who reigned in the south of..

  • 12 Yapahuwa Recommended Recommended

    Archaeological and historical sites

    The monumental lion staircase, which once led to the Temple of the Tooth Relic of the Buddha, is a masterpiece of the ruined citadel of Yapahuwa. It is a striking site, with the fortress of Bhuvanekabahu I (13C) standing against the granite rock emer..

  • 13 Silver Temple Recommended Recommended

    Religious buildings

    The two superimposed sanctuaries here are partly carved out of the rock. Ridi Vihara, the Silver Temple, was originally built by King Duttu Gemunu in the 2C B.C. on the rocky outcrop of a silver-bearing seam, thus its name. The Buddha's image can be ..

  • 14 Anuradhapura : Thuparama Recommended Recommended

    Religious buildings

    The Thuparama is the oldest and holiest of the Buddhist temples atAnuradhapura. It is not advisable to enter with exposed arms and legs. Built to house one of the Buddha's clavicles, the temple served as a model for monumental reliquaries of Singhale..

  • 15 Avukana Recommended Recommended

    Religious buildings

    You have to climb up a little hill to see it: a colossal 13m Buddha contemplating the rising sun, sculpted in relief on a cliff to which it is only connected at the back and one elbow. It's Avukana, he who "feeds on the sun". Breathtaking!

  • 16 Mihintale Recommended Recommended

    Archaeological and historical sites

    Mihintale boasts a staircase with 1,840 steps. It goes up the historical hill from which Buddhism was propagated in Ceylon after the conversion of the King of Anuradhapura by the Indian Mahinda in the 3C B.C. An edifying place full of hills and monas..

  • 17 Sasseruwa Recommended Recommended

    Religious buildings

    It's hard work getting to this remote spot way out in the countryside. The unfinished giant Buddha of Sasseruwa, said to be an inferior first attempt to make the colossus at Avukana, looks out at you from the foot of the cliffs. Don't miss the surrou..

  • 18 Ritigala Hermitages Recommended Recommended

    Religious buildings

    On a lush hill in sight of the Ritigala nature reserve. This is the domain of the monkey god Hanuman, who created a green oasis where the Pansukulika monks took refuge to meditate. Monastic and troglodyte remains and dizzying vegetation.

  • 19 Polonnaruwa Citadel Recommended Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    The Citadel - itself enclosed inside the walled city of Polonnaruwa - had double walls to protect the "thousand rooms" of Parakrama Baku's palace, the centre of power. The marvellous bas-reliefs with elephants in the Council Room have withs..

  • 20 Polonnaruwa: Crematory Monastery Recommended Recommended

    Religious buildings

    The remains of the Alahena Pirivena, a huge monastic complex, were uncovered thanks to funding from UNESCO. And this is just one of the complexes in the city of monasteries built by Parakrama Bahu outside the walled city of Polonnaruwa.

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