The island's medieval capital (11th - 13th century A.D.) is situated 216 km. from Colombo and rose to fame after the decline of Anuradhapura. The city in its day was fortified polonnaruwawith three concentric walls, beautified with parks and gardens and sanctified by many shrines.
A unique irrigational complex known as the Sea of Parakrama watered the city as well as the surrounding plains.
The largest of the man made reservoirs, the huge Parakrama Samudra, is larger in size than Colombo Harbour. See also the ruins of the King's Council Chamber, the Royal Citadel, the Kumara Pokuna, Royal Pavilion: Siva Devate (llth century Hindu Tempiey, theThuparamawith its original vaulted roof, the Vatadage Relic House, lavished with moonstones, guardstones and sculptured railing, Kiri Vehera - the best preserved of all Sri Lanka's UN-restored dagabas ; Gal Vicar - the most impressive sculptures are the colossal Buddha images carved on the face of a granite boulder.
The recumbent Buddha measures 14 metres and the standing figure is 7 metres in height; Demerol Aha Seya - a shrine of novel design, the dome rising from a terraced and moulded base and is left unfinished at a height of 15 metres, Tivanka Image House the largest brick built shrine In Polonnaruwa. At the fascinating Alahana Pirivena, a medieval centre of learning for monks, major excavation and restoration work is in progress by the UNESCO - Sponsored Central Cultural Fund.