Anuradhapura / Sri Lanka: The ruins of Anuradhapura are a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Anuradhapura is one of the most beautiful and oldest cities in Sri Lanka. The city is located in the province of North Central, around 90 meters above sea level and has around 60,000 inhabitants. Anuradhapura today consists of two parts, a new center, which was only built in the 20th century, and the district of the old ruins.
The most spectacular sight is the field of ruins, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980. Anuradhapura was once the first capital of Sri Lanka and was a residential city for over 1300 years. The royal palace and the monastery complex were centers of religious and literary culture. Among other things, the first Buddhist cult sites in Sri Lanka were built here.
Precious Buddha statues are exhibited in the archaeological museum
The area of the ruined city covers an area of around 50 square kilometers. It is therefore advisable to borrow a bike or hire a driver who also takes on the role of guide. The remains of the Mirisavati-Dagoba still bear witness to the former size of the Mirisavati-Dagoba. It was once one of the most powerful dagobas on the island. Buddha relics and other Buddhist shrines are kept in a dagoba. Not only study travelers should pay a visit to the archaeological museum, which is located on the premises. In addition to precious Buddha figures, frescoes and sculptures and stone inscriptions, you can even see some models of the dagobas.
The bronze palace once had more than 1,000 rooms
Very close to the archaeological museum is another major attraction of Anuradhapura, the Sri Maha Bodhi, reputedly the oldest tree on earth. It is said to have been planted in 230 BC as an offshoot of a tree under which Siddharta Gautama got his enlightenment. Buddhists from all over the world make a pilgrimage to him today to offer their offerings such as incense sticks, food and flowers. A large number of high-quality sights await travelers in Anuradhapura, such as the remains of the Lohapasada, the so-called bronze palace. It was once supported by 1,600 columns, 40 of which each formed a row. The palace was likely nine stories high and housed more than 1,000 rooms.
The Royal Gardens are a place of rest and relaxation
Under the remains of the Ratna Pasada, the so-called Gemstone Palace, a building that dates from the 2nd century, a beautiful stele has been preserved, which represents a guardian. The stele is 1 meter and 38 centimeters high and represents the snake king Naga. The moonstone at the Queen’s pavilion is one of the most beautiful on the entire island. Only a few stone pillars of the Queen’s Pavilion, which was built in the 3rd century, have survived the centuries. Ranamasu Uyana, the Royal Gardens, date back to the 1st century BC. They include baths, pavilions, bridges, small lakes and rivers that have been artificially created. The two baths are among the most impressive examples of rock architecture.
The rock monastery dates from the 3rd century
A visit to the rock monastery is a must on a study trip to Anuradhapura. In Isurumuniya Vihara, visitors can expect reliefs of unique beauty. In addition, there is its idyllic location on Lake Tissa Wewa. The complex dates from the 3rd century – parts of the temples were even hewn out of the rock. The way to the actual sanctuary leads up a staircase. On the way up you pass a beautiful relief depicting a man with a horse, which was most likely created in the 7th century. Not all of the divine statues are in the main shrine today. They have found their new place in the small but fine museum that was built right next door. The most important and best-known relief of the monastery is also exhibited here. It is called “The Lovers” and probably dates from the 5th or 6th century. It depicts a warrior and a woman in the most intimate harmony.