The summit

After the tortuous path up, the summit seems huge. This was the site of Kassapa's palace, and almost the entire area was originally covered with buildings. Only the foundations now remain, though, and it's difficult to make much sense of it all - the main attraction here is the fabulous views down to the water gardens and out over the surrounding countryside.

The summit shelves quite steeply; the king’s palace occupied the higher ground on the right, while the lower area to the left would have housed the living quarters of guards and servants. The two areas are divided by a wide, zigzagging paved walkway. The Royal Palace itself is now just a plain, square brick platform at the very highest point of the rock, next to which you can see a rectangular outline -popularly described as a “throne”. The upper section is enclosed by steep terraced walls, below which is a large tank cut out of the solid rock; it’s thought that water was channelled to the summit using an ingenious hydraulic system powered by windmills. Below here a series of four further terraces, perhaps originally gardens, tumble down to the lower edge of the summit above Sigiriya Wewa.

The path down takes you along a slightly different route — you should end up going right past the Cobra Hood Cave, if you missed it earlier, before exiting the site to the south.