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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 12, 2018
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Joanna James Joanna James
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World Heritage Centres in Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka's Cultural Heritage Sites

The island of Sri Lanka is a fascinating place and features an incredible amount of history and natural beauty, along with six distinct UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

1

Old Town Galle and its Fortifications

Perhaps one of the most well-known and widely visited places in Sri Lanka is Galle, and its iconic attractions. The Galle Fort is an attraction that cannot be missed and is widely considered the best example of a European fortification in South and South-East Asia. The town of Galle is unique since it features both European architecture and Sri Lankan customs, making for a truly unique cultural phenomenon. The entire south-western coast of Sri Lanka is full of resorts and taking a visit to Galle is one of the top things to do in Kalutara if you're at one of the many places of luxury accommodation such as the Anantara Kalutara Resort.

2

The Ancient Kingdom of Pollonaruwa

After the Chola King Rajaraja Chola I invaded Sri Lanka and laid waste to Anuradhapura, he set up a new capital which became Pollonaruwa. It contains an intriguing mix of architectural components, ranging from the Brahmanic monuments that were constructed by the Chola dynasty as well as the spectacular ruins of the once great garden-city created by Parakramabahu during the 12th century. The ancient city also contains the massive man-made reservoir, Giritale Tank, which was built during the 6th century.

3

The Golden Temple of Dambulla

This incredible temple has been a sacred place of worship for more than two thousand years. This massive compound is also within a cave, making it the largest of its kind in the entire country as well as the best preserved. Within the elaborate cave temple you will also find more than 150 statues as well as Buddhist mural paintings covering a total surface area of more than two thousand square-metres.

4

The Sacred City of Anuradhapura

This has been recorded as one of the most ancient continuously populated places in the world. The city was built sometime during the 5th century BC. Eventually it became one of the most significant cities in the ancient world, having featured complex and intricate irrigation works that have persisted till today.

5

The Sigiriya Citadel

This incredible city lies on top of a massive rock at a height of two hundred metres, or six-hundred-and-sixty feet. It was built during the 4th century and the citadel's incredible architecture and execution baffles scientists, archaeologists and architects to this day. A good portion of the rock surface was dedicated to the king's royal harem as he immortalised them in the iconic Sigiriya frescoes. The entranceway contains the massive paws of a giant lion and the citadel itself contains titanic pools and royal seating areas.

6

The City of Kandy

This sacred city was the site of the last great Sri Lankan kingdom. It was a flourishing city for more than two-thousand-five-hundred years before the British arrived and took over. The city is also home to The Temple of the Sacred Tooth, one of the most prominent Buddhist places of worship in the world since it supposedly contains a tooth belong to Lord Buddha himself. Every year a massive festival takes place, the Esela Perahera, and it lasts multiple days. This is one of the most ideal times to visit Kandy.