For well over a thousand years, the history of Sri Lanka was essentially the history of ANURADHAPURA. Situated almost at the centre of the island’s northern plains, the city rose to prominence very early in the development of Sri Lanka, and maintained its pre-eminent position for more than a millennium until being finally laid waste by Indian invaders in 993. Today, Anuradhapura remains a magical place. The sheer scale of the ruined ancient city – and the thousand-plus years of history buried here – is overwhelming, and you could spend days or even weeks ferreting around amongst the ruins.

At its height, Anuradhapura was one of the greatest cities of its age, functioning as the island’s centre of both temporal and spiritual power, dotted with dozens of monasteries populated by as many as ten thousand monks – one of the greatest monastic cities the world has ever seen. The kings of Anuradhapura oversaw the golden age of Sinhalese culture, and the temples and the enormous dagobas they erected were amongst the greatest architectural feats of their time, surpassed in scale only by the great pyramids at Giza. The city’s fame spread to Greece and Rome and, judging by the number of Roman coins found here, appears to have enjoyed a lively trade with the latter.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Sri Lanka features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

Elephants are born free, but are everywhere in chains – and it’s tourism which is increasingly to blame. Riding an elephant used to be on every visitor’s …

25 Nov 2016 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
16 evocative pictures of Sri Lanka

16 evocative pictures of Sri Lanka

After a couple of weeks travelling across Sri Lanka, photographer Nori Jemil shares why this Indian Ocean island is a perfect subject. Here are 16 of her favour…

04 Oct 2016 • Nori Jemil insert_drive_file Article
10 Sri Lankan foods you need to try

10 Sri Lankan foods you need to try

The tear-shaped Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka is a true culinary treat. Through years of colonisation and trade, many cultures have influenced its cuisine, c…

12 Jul 2016 • Sarah Gilbert insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month