Sri Lanka is not just a tropical beach paradise; it has a remarkable history and culture which we can take a glimpse into by exploring its many heritage sites. The Cultural Triangle located in the interior of the island has the most precious collection of Sri Lanka’s history; it consists of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy.
In the northern corner of the cultural triangle is the sacred city of Anuradhapura, which was the first ancient capital of Sri Lanka. It is also one of the greatest civilizations in the world with preserved ruins dating back to 4th century BC. Polonnaruwa marks the east corner of the triangle, and is significant as it was the second ancient capital of Sri Lanka. Visitors here will be stunned with the impressive ruins of palaces, irrigation marvels and sanctuaries that have survived several hundred years. Towards the south of the triangle is Kandy, the last ancient capital of Sri Lanka and the final stronghold against colonial power. With beautiful palaces and the important Temple of the Tooth, Kandy is a must visit.
The centre of the triangle boasts two incredible sites that are in close proximity to each other – the rock fortress of Sigiriya and the cave temples of Dambulla. Sigiriya is considered by some to be the eighth wonder of the ancient world; and consists of ancient rock palace ruins on top of a magnificent 180m granite rock. The temple in Dambulla is situated over 160m over the surrounding plains, in five caves that contain over 150 Buddhist statues, murals and frescoes.
Another important UNESCO World Heritage Site is the magnificent Galle Fort. Located in the south coast of the island, this is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by the Europeans with a remarkable history and scenic views.