Visitors on the summit of Sigiriya Rock.

© Thomas Wyness/Shutterstock


Top choice in Sigiriya

The spectacular terraced summit of the rock covers 1.6 hectares. This is thought to be the site chosen by King Kasyapa for his fortified capital after he had assassinated his father. Today only the low foundations of structures exist, and the remains are visually unimpressive. Still, it's hard not to be captivated by the astonishing views from this lofty perch, which extend for kilometres across an emerald ocean of forest canopy.

A smooth stone slab (the so-called king’s throne, possibly a meditation spot) sits 30m away from the ruins of a dagoba. The 27m-by-21m tank, hewn out of the rock, looks for all the world like a modern swimming pool, although it was doubtless used for water storage.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Sigiriya attractions

1. Sigiriya

Rising dramatically from the central plains, the enigmatic rocky outcrop of Sigiriya is perhaps Sri Lanka's single most dramatic sight. A set of near…

2. Frescoes

0.06 MILES

Halfway up the Sigiriya rock an open-air spiral stairway leads to a long, sheltered gallery in the sheer rock face. The paintings of the buxom, wasp…

3. Cobra Hood Cave

0.08 MILES

This rocky projection down in the Boulder Garden earned its name because the overhang resembles a fully opened cobra’s hood. The plastered interior of the…

4. Mirror Wall

0.08 MILES

Beyond the Sigiriya frescoes, the path clings to the sheer side of the rock and is protected on the outside by a 3m-high wall. This wall (not the actual…

5. Lion’s Paws

0.09 MILES

At the northern end of the rock, a narrow pathway emerges on to the large platform from which the site derives its name – Sigiriya (from sinha-giri) means…

6. Boulder Gardens


At the base of the Sgiriya rock and most easily seen after a visit to the summit, this collection of natural boulders once formed the bases of monastery…

7. Royal Gardens

0.26 MILES

The base of the Sigiriya rock is a beautifully landscaped area dotted with formal water features, terraced gardens and natural boulders that were once…

8. Main Exit

0.33 MILES

Most people end up here after their visit to the Sigiriya rock.