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Updated by Joanna James on Aug 13, 2018
Headline for World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka – Attractions for the Culture Enthusiast
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Joanna James Joanna James
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World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka – Attractions for the Culture Enthusiast

The island nation of Sri Lanka inherits a rich historical and cultural legacy. Therefore it is not surprising that there are a number of designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka, some of which are listed below.

1

Historic City of Anuradhapura

The mystical city of Anuradhapura is considered to be the oldest as well as the largest of Sri Lanka's ancient cities. Anuradhapura is, without doubt, one of the highlights of the island nation's Cultural Triangle and is sure to capture the imagination of the culture lover. At this intriguing city, you will find many interesting ruins that provide a glimpse of the grandeur of the ancient civilization of Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura functioned as the capital of no less than 250 Buddhist as well as Hindu monarchs and is regarded as being one of the outstanding archaeological sites in the world.

2

Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

Your tour of the World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka would not be complete without visiting the historically significant city of Polonnaruwa. This city has the distinction of being the second of Sri Lanka's ancient capitals and features a number of fascinating cultural attractions. Polonnaruwa was initially made the capital of the land by the monarch Vijayabahu I, a historical figure who managed to reunite the nation after defeating the invaders who had conquered parts of the land. Today Polonnaruwa is considered to be one of Sri Lanka's esteemed archaeological sites and is a proud testament to the magnificence of the ancient Sinhalese kingdoms.

3

Sacred City of Kandy

The city of Kandy attained the status of being the capital of the final sovereign kingdom to remain in the island after the outlying coastal areas of Sri Lanka had been invaded by Portuguese colonizers. In fact, Kandy retained its independence before finally succumbing in 1815 to the British. Probably the most important feature in Kandy is the greatly venerated Temple of the Tooth, which as its name indicates houses a tooth relic of the Buddha. A well-known cultural feature associated with the sacred tooth relic is the Esala Perahera, a grand pageant featuring numerous elephants and performers which is held in the city of Kandy.

4

Ancient City of Sigiriya

The splendid rock fortress at Sigiriya is unquestionably one of Sri Lanka's foremost cultural attractions. Also called the Lion Rock, this eye-catching fortress was constructed by the controversial monarch Kasyapa in the 5th century. The remnants at the Sigiriya site offer an impressive glimpse into the skill of the artisans who constructed this archaeological marvel many centuries ago. These ruins provide a suggestion of the magnificence of this site in its heyday. Today Sigiriya with its famous paintings and other attractions are an important highlight for tourists visiting Sri Lanka. When it comes to a culture trip in Sri Lanka on which you will have the opportunity to visit Sigiriya and other such attractions as part of a specialised tour, consider the services offered by licensed tour operators the likes of Holidays by Design.

5

Golden Temple of Dambulla

This fascinating cultural attraction which is also known as the Dambulla Cave Temple always makes an impression on the visitor. This noteworthy attraction is considered to be the most well-preserved and the largest complex of cave temples in Sri Lanka. Out of the multitude of caves to be found at this site, most of the cultural attractions are centred on 5 significant caves; you will encounter a number of interesting paintings and statues within these caves. Within the complex, you will find as many as 153 statues of Buddha in addition to a few statues of local monarchs and deities. Visitors will also see interesting murals which cover a considerable extent within the complex.

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