Anuradhapura is a fascinating ancient city of the Sinhala kings, the first capital and undoubtedly the grandest city of ancient Sri Lanka. Sri Maha Bodhi (Sacred Bo-Tree) was brought to Sri Lanka as a sapling from the tree under which Buddha is said to have become enlightened, at over 2,200 years old it is the oldest historically documented tree in the world. The 1600 stone columns of Brazen Palace (2nd century B.C), which are all that is left of a magnificent multi-storied residence for monks. Thuparama Dagoba (3rd century B.C) - the oldest Dagoba in the island and Ruwanweliseya (2nd century B.C) - the most famous of all the Dagobas. Samadhi Buddha statue (4th century AD) and Isurumuniya rock temple (3rd century B.C) which is well known for its rock carvings of The Lovers and The Horseman.
Excavations have unearthed jewellery, sculptures, coins and other rare artefacts including seven Buddhist scriptures etched into sheets of beaten gold. Soaring towards the sky, the magnificent dagobas reached monumental proportions during the period of the kingdom of Anuradhapura, which lasted for about 1,500 years, until the 10th century AD.
The finest of the carved stone figures protecting gateways (guard stones) at Anuradhapura is at the pavilion of Ratna Prasada. Nearby, at the Queen’s Pavilion, is a superbly crafted semi-circular stone moonstone set at the base of the stairs.