World Heritage Sites

Sri Lanka is one of Asia’s richest treasure troves of both natural and man-made wonders. Royal and sacred cities, colonial strongholds, temple caves and virgin forests with no fewer than Eight World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka declared and listed by UNESCO.

Eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka have been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage namely, the sacred city of Anuradhapura, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the ancient city of Sigiriya, the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the old town of Galle and its fortifications, Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, the magnificent temples and palaces of the royal city of Kandy and the Sinharaja Forest Reserve.

Eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka:

  • Anuradhapura is a fitting climax to any tour of the Cultural Triangle and world famous for its well preserved ruins of the Great Sri Lankan Civilization. The Civilization which was built upon this city was one of the greatest civilizations of Asia and in the world.

    The sacred city of Anuradhapura (1982) 
  • Remains as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa. The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first established by the Chola dynasty after their successful invasion of the country's then capital, Anuradhapura, in the 10th century. The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa has been declared a World Heritage Site.

    The medieval capital of Polonnaruwa (1982) 
  • Sigiriya was designated a World Heritage site in 1988. Sigiriya presents a unique concentration of fifth century urban planning, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, arts and architecture, engineering and hydraulic technology. The Sigiriya rock is a hardened magma plug from an extinct and long-eroded volcano.

    The Sigiriya Rock Fortress (1982) 
  • The relic has played an important role in the local politics since ancient times, it’s believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country, which caused the ancient kings to protect it with great effort. Kandy was the capital of the Sinhalese Kings from 1592 to 1815, fortified by the terrain of the mountains and the difficult approach.

    Temple of Tooth Relic Kandy (1988) 
  • Galle Fort or the Dutch Fort is a Portuguese fortress which was built in 1588 at the bay of Galle on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka. This fortress is completed with 14 bastions which is still the best-preserved and best example for the fortified city in Asia built by Europeans by showing the mix of European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.

    The Dutch fortifications at Galle (1988) 
  • Variety of indigenous plants and animals, flowing rivers and silent streamlets cover up nearly 9800 hectares. Out of a total of 830 indigenous flowering plants in the Island Sinharaja has nearly 500 plants and out of 21 native bird species in the country 17 species have made Sinharaja their home.

    The Sinharaja forest reserve (1988) 
  • Dambulla Cave Temple, also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla is a world heritage site in Sri Lanka, situated in the central part of the country. Dambulla was designated a World Heritage site in 1991. This site is situated 148 km east of Colombo and 72 km north of Kandy.

    The cave temples of Dambulla (1991) 
  • The newest addition to the list, Sri Lanka's highlands are made up of three wet-zone parks: the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, the Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Conservation Forest. Adam's Peak is the highest point, which has become a significant center for Buddhist pilgrims. 

    Central Highlands (2010)