Up, up, up to Sigiriya

The palace at the top of a rock


We weren’t really sure what to expect of Sigiriya, we knew it was a giant rock that held a lot of significance to the people of Sri Lanka, but beyond that we didn’t know much at all.

In fact the attraction is a giant palace built centuries ago on the top of a giant rock – 1200 steps and 200 metres straight up!

The Palace was built for King Kasyapa (who ruled from 473-495), his wife, and 500 concubines (according to legend, that is).

The palace no longer stands but you can wander around the ruins, and there are signs throughout that give you the background of the site.



The site was used by Buddhist monks before King Kasyapa moved in and built his palace and it’s easy to see why they chose this place. It’s lovely and peaceful.

Today it is recognised as a World Heritage site by Unesco and is one of the most important cultural locations in Sri Lanka.

The site was very spiritual – for me it was far more spiritual than the Dambulla Caves, but perhaps that was because I had a better understanding of Sigiriya than the caves.

The walk up is tough, but very pleasant. After walking through what would have been the water gardens you wander through a rock arched entrance, up past caves containing rock paintings of the concubines and the original “mirror wall” before finally reaching the official entrance to the palace.

At some time this would have been an imposing lion, but all that is left are the feet and the final steps.

The top of the rock is covered with the ruins of the old palace, the palace gardens and swimming pool. The grounds are impressive, but perhaps even more impressive is the intricate water system that ensured all rain water was channelled for use within the palace grounds – it’s amazing to think how long ago this was built!

What’s the most interesting palace you’ve ever been to? We’d love to hear about it below.