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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Top 5 Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka – Don't Miss Out on these Key Attractions!
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 5 Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka – Don't Miss Out on these Key Attractions!

Complete with culture, history and heritage, the rich island of Sri Lanka should definitely be on your bucket list. Here are some of the top heritage sites to visit.



Polonnaruwa is the second ancient capital city of Sri Lanka and was so named after the first capital, Anuradhapura was destroyed in 993. Polonnaruwa has a number of ancient temples and buildings to explore through as it was known as the royal capital for 3 centuries for the Sinhalese and Chola kingdoms. Once the Cholas conquered Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa was named as the new capital – however, in 1070, the dynasty was defeated by the Sinhalese. During the reign of the Sinhalese King Parakramabahu I, a number of large buildings, water tanks and parks were built in the city. By the turn of the 13th century and under the rule of a new king, the glory of Polonnaruwa started to diminish and the capital was then moved to Colombo. Some of the key attractions/ ruins that you must visit are The Royal Palace which includes the royal audience hall and swimming pool. Religious sites include a sacred quadrangle, Pabalu Vehera and Dagaba Kiri Vihara to name a few.



This ancient rock fortress is quite popular and is hard to miss. Towering against a thick growth of lush jungles, Sigiriya was once known to be the premises for a royal kingdom that was built during the reign of King Kasyapa I, after he murdered his father; the king, and fled to this rock to start his own kingdom. You can climb this magnificent masterpiece that's about 180 meters high and browse through various frescoes and other attractions in the area. The king's fortress was built at the summit of the rock which offers breathtaking scenic views of the surroundings. The climb should take a couple of hours and it is highly recommended that you check in to some of the best hotels in Sigiriya so that you could get plenty of rest before and after – as you'll be exhausted! Properties such as Sigiriya Jungles are located in close proximity to the massive rock.



The town of Dambulla has been a sacred site for worshippers for over 22 centuries and is known to have one of the largest cave temples on the island known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla. Inside the cave temple, you'll be able to find about 157 statues of Buddha. The temple is located on the Dambulla rock, and after a short climb, you'll be blessed with breathtaking views of the city as you walk along the ancient walls of the temples.


Galle Town

The old town of Galle is quite famous for its glorious fort that was built by the Portuguese and later fortified by the Dutch after they conquered the island of Sri Lanka. Stroll along the ancient ramparts and you explore through the museums located within the fort. Don't miss out on the iconic lighthouse and the Galle clock tower located on either end of the fort.



Kandy is a historic regal city in Sri Lanka. One of the main attractions of the city is the Sri Dalada Maligawa, a sacred temple that is believed to hold an ancient tooth relic of the Buddha.