Sigiriya Rock Fortress and Polonnaruwa
You will start your day by visiting the mighty Sigiriya Rock Fortress which dominates the surrounding landscape. For many visitors, this is the most impressive site in Sri Lanka with stunning views from the top.
The citadel, built just before 500 AD, is surrounded by a double moat, the outer of which is now dry. Water gardens, largely dry now, are a restful place to pass time before or after your climb. The fortress was apparently only used for a brief period and some time later occupied by monks. There is one remaining series of frescoes, the most famous in the country, which are situated above a spiral staircase half way up the rock. On top are the foundations of an extensive royal palace, including a water storage tank.
The climb looks more daunting than it is in reality, especially if you take your time, but there are nevertheless some stretches of the stairways which are wholly unsuitable for anyone with a trace of vertigo. Most of the route up to the frescoes will present no problem, but the upper reaches feel very exposed even though there is a stout metal banister along the entire way. For those who make the climb, do not forget to pause and view the rock. Try to envisage exactly how the climb was accomplished without the aid of the present stairways, and your impression of Sigiriya will be complete.
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