King Parakramabahu’s Royal Palace
According to the Chulavamsa (one of the great Chronicles of Sri Lankan history), the Parakramabahu Royal palace originally stood seven stories tall and boasted a thousand rooms, although this was probably an exaggeration (an interesting model in the museum shows a speculative impression of how this seven-storey palace might have looked). The remains of three brick stories have survived (any further levels would have been built of wood and have long since disappeared), although they don’t give much idea of how the building would originally have appeared – the ruin now looks more like a Norman castle than a Sinhalese royal palace. The holes in the walls were for floor beams, while the vertical grooves up to the first floor would have held stone reinforcements. The entire structure stands on a raised plinth and was originally enclosed in a rectangle of modest one-storey buildings which housed palace staff and officials; parts of these buildings’ walls and foundations can still be seen, some of them rather fussily restored using modern bricks.
Royal Baths (Kumara Pokuna)
Just northeast of here are the Royal Baths (Kumara Pokuna), designed in an unusual geometric shape (a square superimposed on a cross) and fed by two spouts carved with eroded makaras. Next to here stands the impressive two-tiered base of what was presumably some kind of royal bathhouse; each tier is decorated with lions, and there’s a good moonstone on the upper level.