Sri Lanka has a recorded history that dates back to more than 2000 years. Hence there are thousands of ancient temples, palace complexes, huge ancient reservoirs and irrigation channels throughout the country. Ancient irrigation infrastructure is so remarkable that most of its are still functioning and provide the water supply for agriculture. This is a list of some of the most important religious, archeological and cultural monuments of Sri Lanka.
Following is a map of cultural World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka.
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SigiriyaWhere181km from Colombo (Dambulla)
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An icon of the rich history of Sri Lanka. Widely considered as the 8th wonder of the world. Sigiriya stands 200m tall and can be climbed by anyone using the well-maintained iron steps. On the way, you can enjoy the ancient world famous paintings. From the top, you can enjoy the Sigiriya Water Garden and the Stupas of Anuradhapura from the far.
Ruwanweli Saya 1Where204km from Colombo
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Anuradhapura is full of ancient monuments built more than 1500 years ago. Must visit places include Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, Ruwanwelisaya, Abhayagiri Dagaba and Jetavanarama. Jetavanarama was the tallest brick structure in the ancient world and was only second to Pyramids in Egypt. Anuradhapura is also home to one of the greatest irrigation systems in the ancient world, which is surprisingly still functioning. Kala Wewa, Tisa Wewa, Nuwara Wewa and Yodha Ela are some of the greatest.
Polonnaruwa 02Where232km from Colombo
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Statue of King Parakramabahu, Polonnaruwa Vatadage, Sandakada pahana at Polonnaruwa Hatadage, Nissanka Latha Mandapaya, Satmahal Prasada and Gal Vihara are some of the must visit monuments. Parakrama Samudra, one of the largest ancient reservoirs in Sri Lanka should also include in a visit.
Dambulla Cave Temple
Dambulla 01Where164km from Colombo (Dambulla)
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A 30 minutes climb on ancient rock steps brings you to the cave temple. You can enjoy spectacular ancient paintings and statues. The Golden Temple at the bottom of the rock is a recent addition to the world heritage complex.
Temple of Tooth, Kandy
Front view of Temple of the Tooth, KandyWhere118km from Colombo (Kandy)
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Most important Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. Houses the relic of the tooth of the Lord Buddha. Architecture and paintings date back to several centuries. A visit should also include the museum inside the palace. Dress code is strictly enforced here.
Galle Fort
Galle FortWhere133km from Colombo (Galle)
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A UNESCO world heritage site that dates back to 16th century. Most of the ancient fort is still well preserved. Visitors can enjoy the spectacular view of Indian Ocean with the ancient fort walls in the backdrop.

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