12 Best Ancient Places & Historical Places in Sri Lanka

Looking for best Ancient and Historical Places in Sri Lanka? Then you have found right article to know details in this topics. We have made a list of popular historical places in Sri Lanka for you.

The Ancient history of Sri Lanka goes 3000 years in the past. Mahavamsa, the oldest book in the country’s history written in Pali language, records details of history about Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has a wide of Ancient Places & Historical Places in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is the land of wonders. Sri Lanka has hosted historical events that changed the history of two biggest religions, i.e. Hinduism and Buddhism and socio-political history of South Asia and South East Asia.

Video: Best Ancient sites and Historical places in Sri Lanka

In this article, you will discover the 12 Best Ancient Places & Historical Places in Sri Lanka.


Sigiriya | Photo Credit: Enrica F

Sigiriya is one of the most famous landscapes in the world and is named as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Sigiriya, meaning Lion Rock, is a perfect place to learn about the historical places in Sri Lanka. The entrance to the rock used to be covered by a gate in the shape of a lion, thus giving it its name.

Most of the frescoes, the Mirror Wall, the gardens and structures of this fortress, as well as the lion paws of the Lion Gate are still preserved well. the area it self can give a much more accurate picture about the history of ancient times of Sri Lanka. Sigiriya was not only a castle, it was also a fortress.

Sigiriya | Photo Credit: Loïc Brohard

It has a 360 degree view of the surroundings on the top of the rock, and the ruins of the measures taken to keep enemies off can still be seen. Even though Sigiriya is a mysterious ancient place, it is not a religious location.

Adam’s Peak

Adams Peak, also known as Sripada in Sinhalese, is one of the historical places in Sri Lanka that is home to a lot of legends. All people from all races come to see this sacred location as the legends circle all of the major religions in Sri Lanka.

Adam’s Peak | Photo Credit: Michael Shehan

Adam’s Peak has gotten its name by the legend that says that it was where Adam, the first man, has first set his foot when he was exiled from Eden. Buddhists believe that Lord Buddha visited here as well, and left his footprint on this religious location. Hindus consider this footprint to be of Lord Shiva’s.

This ancient place is recorded in a lot of records of ancient travelers who visited Sri Lanka during past civilizations. All pilgrims who visit Sripada start their climb at night so that they can reach the peak at sunrise. Sunrise is truly an amazing sight to see at this mysterious place.

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Aluvihara Hindu Temple in Matale | Photo Credit: Pavel Dobrovsky

Matale is the home to the ancient place Aluvihara Temple. Aluvihara Temple holds an important place in the history of ancient Sri Lanka, as this was the place where all Pali Canon was first written down in the history of the ancient world.

This was done in the Anuradhapura era, and ever since then, this area has played a big part in the history of ancient times. A famous landscape in the world, the Knuckles Mountain Range is also situated in the same location.

Matale is also the home to many national heroes of Sri Lanka. Like this, Matale has always played a major role in the history of ancient places in Sri Lanka.


Entrances, Dambulla Cave Temples, Sri Lanka. Photo Credit: Terry Feuerborn

Dambulla is one of the most ancient historical places in Sri Lanka. The cave temple have been around since the Anuradhapura era. This religious site is one of the most sacred locations in Sri Lanka, and is also named as a world heritage site by UNESCO.

This area became one of the most famous landscapes of the world when archaeologists found a pre historic human skeleton, which is considered to be around 2700 years old.  This gives proof that the past civilizations of Sri Lanka have roots to some of the deepest parts of the history of the ancient world.


Mihintale – Aradhana Gala | Photo Credit: Dennis Sylvester Hurd

Mihintale is a very sacred location to all Buddhists in Sri Lanka, as history depicts it to be the site where King Devanampiyatissa and the Buddhist monk Mahinda first met. This meeting became the main reason for ancient Sri Lanka to embrace Buddhism as its main religion.

Mihintale was not always a religious site, but now it has been renovated to be one of the most worshipped places in Sri Lanka.

Ancient ruins of a hospital can be seen at the foot of the rock, marking the site as one of the oldest hospitals in the history of ancient world. The architecture, art, and technology of the past civilizations of Sri Lanka can also be observed here.


The Temple Of The Tooth, Kandy | Photo Credit: Antony Stanley

Present home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, one of the most sacred locations and historical places in Sri Lanka, this area is also marks the last capital of Sri Lanka when Sri Lanka was governed by kings.

This centralized location has many ancient places that exhibit the art and culture of the past civilizations of Sri Lanka. Kandy was the capital of Sri Lanka when the Dutch and the English attacked.

Even though the Kandyan Kingdom managed to thwart off the Dutch attacks, it was not very successful with the English.

Because of this, Kandy has an interesting blend of both Sinhala and English architecture mixed together. Upcountry  is a good place to experience the history of ancient times since Sri Lankan and world ancient history comes together.


Yapahuwa | Photo Credit: Mahesh Kularatne

Much like Sigiriya, Yapahuwa was also a citadel of the history of ancient Sri Lanka. Yapahuwa was once home to the sacred tooth relic, making this historical places in Sri lanka as a religious location.

Like Sigirya, was built around a rock, which rose about a 100 meters from the ground. The staircase to the top of the rock is intact, and it is easy to climb all the way to the top of the rock, where a traveler can see remains of military defenses.

Religious sites can also be found on top of the rock including the ruins of a stupa and an enclosure for a Bo tree. Yapahuwa was mostly abandoned by past civilizations after the death of King Buwanekabahu when invasions from South India began.


Polonnaruwa | Photo Credit: Indi Samarajiva

Considering all the ancient historical places in Sri Lanka; Polonnaruwa is also one the famous landscapes in the world. Polonnaruwa is the home to many religious locations and mysterious sites.

The technology and techniques that were used by the past civilizations of Sri Lanka was one of the most advanced technologies used in the ancient world history.

This is how the kings of old times were able to preserve water by making enormous tanks like Parakrama Samudraya, which were used to provide water for the people all year around and Sri Lankans take pride in the fact that these tanks are still in perfect condition.


Jetawanaramaya-Anuradhapura-Sri Lanka-historical-places-in-sri-lanka-ancient-places-in-sri-lanka
Jetawanaramaya – Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka | Hafiz Issadeen

2000 years’ worth of history of ancient times is an immense pride for Sri Lanka. This is one of the major reasons that this small island will always have something that can surprise tourists and travelers.

Anuradhapura is one the most historical places in Sri Lanka and is known to be the home of many mysterious sites and some of the most sacred places in the world.

The whole city of Anuradhapura is filled with wonders of the ancient world and many interesting places to visit. The many religious locations of this area have been preserved for more than 1000 years, along with ancient ruins that were wonders of the past civilizations.

Visiting Anuradhapura will allow you to step back in time to an age of kings, and see for yourself about the excellent technology and culture of ancient Sri Lanka.


Kataragama temple entrance | Adbar

Kataragama, and the history of it can be traced back to an ancient time even before the Auradhapura era. this area plays a critical role in the history of ancient Sri Lanka as it served as a capital during invasions from South India.

Kirivehera is an ancient religious location that is revered by the Buddhists; and people of all religions come to worship GodKataragama whom they believe to be residing in these secret location, making is a mysterious and sacred place.

This part of the island is close to the Yala National Park and is closely associated with even the Vedda people of Sri Lanka, who are considered as a native people of Sri Lanka.


Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil | Photo Credit: Amila Tennakoon

Jaffna is filled with many mysterious historical places in Sri Lanka for a traveler to see, and has a flourishing history that is older than the recorded history of ancient Sri Lanka.

This area is home to Nagadeepa, a place where Buddhists believe that Lord Buddha visited in his second visit to Sri Lanka. Nagadheepa is a very sacred location to Sri Lankans and is one of the most religious sites to Buddhists.

Main cities are closely associated with Hindus, as it was the site for many invasions that happened during the past civilizations of Sri Lanka. However, excavators have uncovered evidence that takes Jaffna’s history all the way back to 2000 BC, making Jaffna a famous landscape in the history of the ancient world.


Panduwasnuwara | Photo Credit: sahan premasiri

The ruins of Panduwasnuwara are not as majestic as Anuradhapura, but this ancient place is known to be older than Anuradhapura itself. People of Sri Lanka believe that descendants of King Vijaya, who was the ancestor of Sinhalese people, ruled here and travelers can still see ruins of past civilizations at this ancient historical place.

Panduwasnuwara Excavators have managed to unearth a Temple which had been built for the tooth relic. Even though this sacred location is one of the most important places here, the spotlight is taken away by the round palace in the moat.

There are many interesting legends about this palace including a prophecy about a child of a princess who will kill all his uncles and become king of the nation. This child was later known as King Pandukabhaya, one of the greatest kings that history of ancient Sri Lanka has seen.


Q. What is the famous monument of Sri Lanka?

A. Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress in Sri Lanka is the famous monument and historical places in Sri Lanka which is also listed in UNESCO World Heritage.

Q. How many World Heritage Sites are there in Sri Lanka?

A. Eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage namely Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Ancient City of Sigiriya, Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications, Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple, Sacred City of Anuradhapura, Sacred City of Kandy and Sinharaja Forest Reserve.

Q. What is the size of Adam’s peak footprint?

A. Adam’s peak footprint Size is 5 ft 11 inch (1.8m)

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