70 km northeast of Dambulla, 142 km north of Kandy and 200 km north of Colombo. Founded in the 5th century BC, Anuradhapura was the capital of the island for fourteen centuries. Placed under the patronage of three great Buddhist monasteries, it grows around immense reliquary buildings, the dagobas (or stupas), built in memory of Buddha: Thuparama, the oldest dagoba on the island, immaculate Ruvanveliseya, the most venerated, and the two gigantic Jetavanarama and Abhayagiriya.

The history of Anuradhapura begins in 380 BC with the monarch Pandukabhaya, but the holy city reached its peak with the arrival of Buddhism on the island during the reign of Devanampiyatissa almost two centuries later. Anuradhapura later fell into the hands of invaders from southern India and was reconquered by King Dutugemunu. The latter is responsible for most of the buildings still visible today. The kings continued the expansion of the city until much later in the 10th century, when it was preferred to its rival Polannaruwa. Three reservoirs are inseparable from the history of the city: the Nuwara Wewa, which is the largest (1,200 hectares) and dates from 20 BC, the Basawakkulama (120 hectares) probably built in the 4th century BC, and the Tissa Wewa (160 hectares) which dates from the 3rd century BC. Anuradhapura has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1982.

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