royal palace-polonnaruwa
Exploring the Majesty of Polonnaruwa's Royal Palace


Nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle lies the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that beckons history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike. Amidst the awe-inspiring ruins of this once-great city, one structure stands out with its majestic presence – the Royal Palace of Polonnaruwa. This architectural marvel is a testament to the grandeur and sophistication of the ancient Sinhalese civilization that thrived here over a millennium ago. In this article, we will delve into the history, architecture, and significance of the Royal Palace, offering a glimpse into the past that still echoes through the stones of Polonnaruwa.

Historical Context

Polonnaruwa served as the capital of Sri Lanka during the reign of the Sinhalese kings from the 11th to the 13th centuries. The city rose to prominence during the reign of King Vijayabahu I and reached its zenith under King Parakramabahu I. During this golden era, the Royal Palace played a pivotal role in the administration and governance of the city.

Architecture and Layout

The Royal Palace of Polonnaruwa is a prime example of the architectural prowess of the time. It was constructed using a combination of brick and timber, with the extensive use of intricate stonework. The palace complex consists of multiple interconnected buildings and courtyards, showcasing the advanced urban planning and engineering skills of the ancient Sinhalese.

The main building of the palace is believed to have had several stories, although only its ground floor remains today. This structure is characterized by its massive stone pillars and beautifully carved stone balustrades. The intricately designed moonstones at the entrances and the well-preserved remains of the guardstones further attest to the artistic excellence of the era.

The palace complex also includes an audience hall, where the king would have held court and conducted royal affairs. The sprawling grounds surrounding the palace were once adorned with lush gardens and ponds, creating a serene and picturesque environment that reflected the opulence of the Sinhalese court.

Significance and Function

The Royal Palace was not merely a residence for the monarch; it served a multifaceted role in the administration of the city. It housed the royal treasury, where the kingdom’s wealth was stored, and also functioned as the center of governance, with various chambers and rooms allocated for administrative purposes. The audience hall, known as the “Raja Sabhawa,” was the place where the king met with his ministers and officials to discuss matters of state.

The palace’s strategic location allowed the king to oversee the daily activities of the city and maintain control over his realm. Its proximity to other important structures, such as the Quadrangle and the Sacred Quadrangle, highlights its pivotal role in the overall layout of Polonnaruwa.

Legacy and Preservation

Despite the passage of centuries and the ravages of time, the Royal Palace of Polonnaruwa remains a remarkable testament to the ingenuity and grandeur of ancient Sri Lankan architecture. UNESCO has recognized its historical significance by designating it as a World Heritage Site, alongside other monuments in Polonnaruwa.

Efforts to preserve and restore the palace have been ongoing, with meticulous attention to detail. Modern conservation techniques have been employed to ensure that this architectural gem continues to inspire and educate future generations about the rich history of Sri Lanka.

Visiting the Royal Palace

Today, the Royal Palace of Polonnaruwa is open to the public, allowing visitors to step back in time and explore the remnants of this once-great kingdom. The site is easily accessible, and guided tours are available to provide historical context and insights into the palace’s significance.

As you wander through the sprawling ruins of the Royal Palace, you can’t help but be awed by the grandeur and sophistication of the ancient Sinhalese civilization. It’s a poignant reminder of the rich cultural heritage of Sri Lanka and the enduring legacy of Polonnaruwa.


he Royal Palace of Polonnaruwa stands as a magnificent testament to the grandeur and sophistication of the ancient Sinhalese civilization. Its architectural splendor, historical significance, and strategic importance in the heart of Polonnaruwa make it a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in exploring the rich history of Sri Lanka. As you wander through its ancient halls and courtyards, you’ll find yourself transported back in time, marveling at the achievements of a bygone era and the enduring legacy of Polonnaruwa’s royal past.

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