Sigiriya. Sri Lanka
How many Wonders of the World do you know? Seven Wonders of the World are well known to everybody, but the enumeration is often continued when it comes to such amazing places like this.
The Eighth Wonder of the World is located in the heart of the island of Sri Lanka. Sigiriya (Rock Fortress or the Lion’s Rock as it can be translated from the Sinhalese language) is an ancient mountain destroyed fortress with the remnants of the palace. It is a major attraction, a popular tourist area and the most visited historic site of Sri Lanka. It is one of the seven areas of Sri Lanka listed in the World Heritage Site since 1982. As you can see, vacation in Sri Lanka will be incomplete without an excursion to Sigiriya.
This place, as befits, is shrouded in various legends and myths. The most widespread of them says this incredible fortress was created during the reign of King Kasyapa I (477-495 AD). In the 5-th century, the eldest son of King Dhatusena, Kasyapa, not a full-blooded heir, was angry at his father about the decision to pass the throne to his younger brother Mugalan. Kasyapa imprisoned his father and walled him up alive. Then he usurped the throne.
Fearing of revenge of his brother – the rightful heir, Kasyapa fled to these faraway places, and built a palace on the top of the cliff. After the death of Kasyapa his palace became a Buddhistic monastery (the monks were here until the fourteenth century), and was completely abandoned by people a few decades later. In the seventeenth century, this area became the Kingdom of Kandy. When the reign of Kandy was over, the Lion’s Rock was forsaken again.
In fact Sigiriya is a rocky plateau that rises for 370 meters above sea level and for 170 meters above the surrounding plain. The rock is a powerful formation of magma of the extinct volcano. Scientists began archaeological works here in the 1890s. More large-scale studies have been initiated by the Government of Sri Lanka in 1982.
Sigiriya was developed into a sophisticated city, and was an impregnable fortress. It included a variety of complex constructions – protective structures, palaces and gardens. Many of the constructions of the fortress survived until now. Some solutions of the ancient builders still amaze with their ingenuity. For example, the storage tanks are still holding water, and moats and walls surrounding the palace still look elegant and beautiful.
The mirrored wall is also a famous part of Sigiriya. Originally this wall was so well polished that the King could see himself while walking beside it. The wall was made of special porcelain, and partially covered with poems scribbled by the visitors of the Lion’s Rock. The most ancient poems date back to the 8-th century.
Gardens of Sigiriya – the central part of this area. They are considered to be one of the most landscaped gardens in the world. The gardens are divided into three separate areas: water gardens, gardens of stones and gardens – terraces.
The ancient temple located on the top of the cliff is a gigantic art gallery. Unique frescoes covered most of the western slope of the cliff, occupying the area of 140 meters long and 40 meters high. Many frescoes of Sigiriya were lost forever, but the style of this painting is considered to be unique and valuable. The Government of Sri Lanka protects Sigiriya in every possible way.