Sigiriya: Lion’s Paw Terrace – Entrance to the rock summit

Lion's Paw Terrace and gateway to the Lion Rock summit in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Lion’s Paw Terrace and gateway to the Sigiriya rock summit

Lion’s Paw Terrace
The Lion’s Paw Terrace is at the northern end of the Lion Rock, and this is where visitors gather after climbing through a narrow passageway, which includes the Mirror Wall, along the western side of the rock. From here, they commence the final ascent to the rock summit to visit the ruins of the magnificent palace built in the 5th century. As you can see, the two giant front paws of the lion flank a part of the staircase that leads to the top.

Experts believe the sculpture of a lion’s face existed above these paws, making the rock resemble a crouching lion, like the colossal statue of the sphinx in Egypt. The lion’s face was built against the rock using bricks and wood, with the surface plastered with lime mortar. Its mouth was wide open to enable the staircase to go through it. In ancient times, it must have been an awe-inspiring sight for the visitors gathered on this terrace.

What remains now of the lion sculpture are the two giant paws and the stone staircase in between. The rest of the original flight of steps has been lost, replaced by a metal staircase. The final ascent to the summit has about 1200 steps.

Sigiriya Rock Pages
Lion Rock – A west-side view
Mirror Wall – Inner Side
Mirror Wall – Outer Side
Lion’s Paw Terrace – Entrance to the rock summit

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