The sacred city of Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the most important ancient city in Sri Lanka. Founded around 5th century BC, Anuradhapura was the first capital of the island, remaining so for over a millennium, and is classified as one of the greatest civilizations of its kind in the world. Visitors will be amazed with the preserved remains of ancient Anuradhapura, which give an insight as to how people lived in this great city back in the day. Remarkable monuments, restored edifices, parks, irrigation lakes and ancient stupas are just some of the many wonders that Anuradhapura has to offer.

Anuradhapura is sacred to Buddhists as it was established around a cutting from the fig tree under which Lord Buddha gained enlightenment. Sri Maha Bodhi, the resulting sacred bo tree, still stands today and is the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world – it is over 2,200 years old! The city is also home to magnificent stupas such as the Abhayagiri, Jetavana and Ruwanweli, which are some of the tallest monuments in the world, as well as the oldest stupa in the island – Thuparama, which enshrines the collar bone relic of Buddha.

Other historical attractions include irrigation lakes such as Tissa Wewa, Abhaya Wewa and Nuwara Wewa, which nourished agriculture in ancient Anuradhapura, and highlight the hydraulic feats of this era. Other notable sites include the Isurumuniya rock temple – renowned for ancient sculptures such as The Lovers, The Horseman and a group of elephants playing in water as well as the stone pillar remains of Brazen Palace, which was once home to 1000 Buddhist monks. Mihintale is a mountain peak of religious significance near Anuradhapura that is worth visiting.

We recommend resorts such as Ulagalla Resort and Palm Garden Village for tranquil, luxurious accommodation options in Anuradhapura.