One of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Sigirya rock-top fortress dates back to the fifth century AD. The atmosphere is more spiritual than militant: in its time, it has acted as a royal palace and a Buddhist monastery.
While descending the ancient rock, visitors can see some of the finest examples of South-Asian apsara painting, widely known as the Sigiriya ladies. These erotic creations are just a small fragment of what was once thought to be a 150m long/40m high area of original paintings.
Sigiriya is also regarded as one of the most important urban planning projects of the first millennium, and is home to some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. Look out too for the mirror wall, a masonry wall that was so well-polished that the king could see his reflection in it. Top tip: go early, so avoiding the heat of the day and the crowds.