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Sigiriya is an ancient palace located in the central Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. According to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle the Culavamsa, this site was selected by King Kasyapa for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colourful frescoes. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock. The capital and the royal palace were abandoned after the king's death. It was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century.

Sigiriya consists of an ancient citadel built by King Kashyapa during the 5th century. The Sigiriya site contains the ruins of an upper palace located on the flat top of the rock, a mid-level terrace that includes the Lion Gate and the mirror wall with its frescoes, the lower palaces located behind the lavish lower gardens, and moats and ramparts which protected the citadel. The site was both a palace and a fortress. The upper palace on the top of the rock includes cisterns cut into the rock that still retain water. The moats and walls that surround the lower palace are still exquisitely beautiful.

John Still in 1907 suggested, "The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery... the largest picture in the world perhaps".[9] The paintings would have covered most of the western face of the rock, an area 140 metres long and 40 metres high. There are references in the graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings. However, most have been lost forever. More frescoes, different from those on the rock face, can be seen elsewhere, for example on the ceiling of the location called the "Cobra Hood Cave".

Although the frescoes are classified as in the Anuradhapura period, the painting style is considered unique;[10] the line and style of application of the paintings differing from Anuradhapura paintings. The lines are painted in a form which enhances the sense of volume of the figures. The paint has been applied in sweeping strokes, using more pressure on one side, giving the effect of a deeper colour tone towards the edge.

Other paintings of the Anuradhapura period contain similar approaches to painting, but do not have the sketchy lines of the Sigiriya style, having a distinct artists' boundary line. The true identity of the ladies in these paintings still have not been confirmed. There are various ideas about their identity. Some believe that they are the ladies of the king's while others think that they are women taking part in religious observances. These pictures have a close resemblance to paintings seen in the Ajanta caves in India.
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The Mirror Wall
Originally this wall was so highly polished that the king could see himself whilst he walked alongside it. Made of brick masonry wall and covered in highly polished white plaster,[11] the wall is now partially covered with verses scribbled by visitors to the rock.

The Gardens
The Gardens of the Sigiriya city are one of the most important aspects of the site, as it is among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. The gardens are divided into three distinct but linked forms: water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and terraced gardens.

The water gardens can be seen in the central section of the western precinct. Three principal gardens are found here. The second contains two long, deep pools set on either side of the path. Two shallow, serpentine streams lead to these pools. The third garden is situated on a higher level than the other two. It contains a large, octagonal pool with a raised podium on its northeast corner.

The water gardens are built symmetrically on an east-west axis. They are connected with the outer moat on the west and the large artificial lake to the south of the Sigiriya rock.
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