Anuradhapura, which was founded in the 04th century BC, is the city where the documented history of the Island began 2500 years ago. The kingdom of Anuradhapura is known to be the longest serving capitol of the Island, spanning from 04th century BC to the early 11th century AD. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The stunning 103-m high gigantic stupa of Ruwanwelisaya was built in the second century BC and is known best as the dagoba that houses the most number of Buddha relics in the world. The monastery that rose around the dagoba was known as Mahavihara or the great monastery. When the dagoba was rediscovered by a hunting Englishman in the 19th century in the remote jungles of the North Central province it was only a colossal mound enveloped in shrubs, abandoned for many centuries. The restoration took over 40 years and completed in almost mid 20th century.
The Abhayagiriya was another Buddhist monastery that included the colossal dagoba bearing the same-name. This dagoba was erected in the 01st century BC and had stood 115m tall but after so many centuries in dilapidation, now measures only up to 75 m high after restoration.
Jetavanarama stupa is an ancient architectural marvel. It was regarded second in size only to the great Pyramid of Giza in the ancient world, standing at 122m. The robe belt of Lord Buddha is believed to be enshrined within the core of the dagoba.
‘Sri Maha Bodhi’ – the sacred Bo-tree (Ficus) which is regarded as the world’s historically documented oldest tree, is said to have been the right wing branch of the very tree under which the Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.
Among the other notable sites are the remnants of Brazen Palace the nine-storey Buddhist monastery and serene Samadhi Buddha statue.