Standing proudly some 650 feet above the leafy scenery below, the mighty Lion's Rock Fortress (also known as Sigiriya) is one of Sri Lanka's most iconic and instantly recognisable sights.
Believed to have been inhabited from the prehistoric era, the huge rock was used as a Buddhist monastery from the 5th century BC, with royal approval.
In the 14th century the incredible rock formation was taken over as a royal palace for strategic purposes - though a number of the beautifully detailed frescoes remained from its Buddhist past. A more detailed site plan was arranged, including a large moat and some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. The fortress was also given its 'Lion's mouth' entrance, as well as the huge clawed feet at the base - giving rise to its famous nickname.
In later years the fortress was all but abandoned, and the living quarters were only re-examined in the late 19th century. They were in a better state of repair than expected, and so they were opened to the public. Thanks to its immense cultural and historical significance, Sigiriya is now a celebrated UNESCO World Heritage site, and continues to attract visitors wishing to make the steep climb to the top.