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Sigiriya

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sigiriya, or "the Lion's Rock", is a massive rock formation that towers more than 650 feet (198 meters) high. Carved into a city fortress on the orders of King Kassapa I in the fifth century, Sigiriya soon grew into an exceptionally elaborate, beautiful place, complete with sprawling, terraced gardens with fountains, myriad frescoes, carved stone walkways and avenues, and finally, a towering palace perched atop the giant rock formation itself.

The city served as the royal residence for only eleven years; following a pivotal battle, Kassapa was defeated by his brother, and took his own life. Afterwards, Sigiriya was given to monks, and fell into a long, slow decline.

Today, highlights of Sigiriya include the Mirror Wall, so-named because it was once constructed from highly polished porcelain; the stunning frescoes of Sigiriya, reminiscent of India's Ajanta Caves; and the palace itself, surrounded by a complex network of moats, reservoirs, cisterns, gardens and additional structures.

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