Yapahuwa Rock Fortress (Yapahuwa Period)
A palace. A shrine and a fortress, the ephemeral Yapahuwa Rock Fortress was a triple threat to the enemy. In a time of political unrest, its engineers were limited ti a few years to fortify the monarchy within a thick stone rampart and security moat. Cunning defense design prescribed the building of the iconic three-tiered stairway. The flights of steps were troublesomely narrow in width and varying in height so as to stump emerging invaders, forcing them to slow down and make their ascent sideways. The second stairway consisting of 65 steps is the most challenging assent. A threateningly steep precipice lay below. Two fearsome lion sculptures stand guard ahead. If a perpetrator were successful in penetrating the stairway, they gained access to the symbolic heart of the Nation, the Shrine of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The one taking its possession became king.