Even though the beautiful island nation of Sri Lanka is famed all over the world for its endless beaches, rolling surfs, timeless ruins and plenty of elephants, it also has a rich history dating back to more than 2500 years. This pearl-shaped country is blessed with several historical sites that signify the bits and bobs of its ancient civilization, traditions, culture and philosophy.


Through this article, we are sharing some of the prominent historical places in Sri Lanka that no history buff can afford to miss while in the nation. Have a peek!



Polonnaruwa is a historical city enclosed by the significant 12th century Royal Citadel and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is renowned for its ancient ruins and its archaeological square is an ideal place to witness age-old artefacts including stupas, tombs, temples and statues. The statue of King Polonnaruwa is a feast to the eyes and some other prominent ancient structures including King Nissankamalla’s Council Chamber, Lankathilaka temple, Buddha statues at Gal Vihara and Royal Palace are must-visit attractions in the city.



An incredible city of the ancient era, Anuradhapura delights visitors with its scared historic sites, structures and tales of yore. The ruins of this beautiful city of the past portray early Sri Lankan civilization and the city is quite popular among Buddhists pilgrims for its age-old Buddhist temples. The former capital of the island, Anuradhapura was home to numerous rulers and is now known as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The sacred city sits around the fig tree which is known as the tree of enlightenment, and Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, Abhayagiri vihara and Ruwanwelisaya are some of its major attractions.


Adam’s Peak

One of the most celebrated pilgrimage destinations in Sri Lanka; Adam’s peak is a mountain 2243 metre high in the south of the central highlands. With its exclusive rock formation, the mountain is considered as the footprint of Buddha among Buddhists, Shiva among Hindus and Adam among Muslims and Christians. It takes seven thousand steps to reach the peak of the mountain which has flashed the imagination for ages and been a holy place for more than 1000 years. Nissanka Malla became the first king in the 12th century to climb the mountain, and later some foreign travellers including Marco Polo, Fa-Hsien, Ibn Battuta, and Robert Knox described the peak with varying degrees of imaginary inaccuracy.



Situated in the midst of hills, Kandy is the largest and one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka. This royal city is renowned for its Tooth relic of Buddha, the botanical gardens and its festivities majorly, the Esala Perahara – a historical parade. A highly popular tourist destination, this city was the last kingdom in Sri Lanka and is currently an immensely populated metropolis with preserved ancient structures. Besides the Temple of the Tooth, this historical site is meant for some other attractions like Kandy Lake, Royal Palace of Kandy and the National Museum of Kandy.



A true hotspot to enjoy the beauty of the past, Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major ancient city in Sri Lanka. With its exotic fusion of Dutch architecture styled buildings, historical mosques and churches and grand museums and mansions, the city takes you back in time and is best to explore on foot.  Galle Fort, The Dutch Reformed Church, National Maritime Museum, Galle lighthouse and National Museum of Galle are the prominent highlights of this iconic city. Moreover, some stylish cafes, perfectly restored hotels and quirky boutiques are other delights here.

For the latest travel advice from the Foriegn & Commonwealth Office including security and
local laws, plus passprt and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foriegn-travel-advice

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