Sigiriya is an important Buddhist site in central Sri Lanka, about 100 miles (161km) northeast of Colombo. The remains of an ancient royal fortress and city dating from 477 AD stand on a vast rock, which rises 600ft (180m) above the surrounding plain. King Kasyapa built it to safeguard against attack from his brother, Mogallana from whom he had stolen the throne after having killed their father. The only way into the city is through the massive carved jaws of a lion - the name Sigiriya is taken from 'giriya', meaning 'jaws and throat' and 'sinha' meaning 'lion'. The site is one of the best-preserved first-millennium city centres in Asia and is also renowned for its 5th-century rock paintings and its magnificent, symmetrical water gardens.
Transport: Two or three hours from Colombo by rail, bus or car
Opening times: Daily 8.30am to 6pm