The Rock Fortress was built by King Kassapa (AD 477-495) in 5th century a.d. and was royal citadel for the more than 18 years. It is a complex of buildings, part royal palace, part fortified town, and water gardens par with the best in the ancient world, constitute a magnificent and unique architectural feat to the ancient sinhalese. In a sheltered pocket approached by a spiral stairway are the famous sigiriya frescoes, the earliest surviving pictorial art of the Sri Lanka & of the same period as the Ajanta frescoes of India. The summit of the rock with an area of nearly 1 hc. Was the site of the palace. It is regarded as the 8th wonder of the ancient world.
Like sigiriya, isolated rock mass & it was here King Walagamba took refuge in the 1st century BC. He later turned caves into a rock temple. Ceiling is one large sweep of colourful paintings which depict Buddhist mythology and tales of the Buddha’s previous births. Some of them over 2100 years old. Within the cave temple is the collection of the largest number of Buddha statues in one place. There's also a recumbent Buddha carved out of the living rock, Some statues are 14m long.