Sri Lanka’s premier ancient city Anuradhapura, situated in the dry zone, was the first Sinhalese capital of Sri Lanka. Its distance from Colombo is 206 kms. Anuradhapura is the third capital established after the arrival of the Aryans. Thambapanni was the first to set up at the mouth of Malwathuoya, Upatissa was the second capital established close to Kandaraoya, a tributary of Malwathu Oya. There are 3,085 villages in the district under one municipal council and 18 pradeshiya sabhas.
The Ruwanwelisaya, Abhayagiriya Jethawanaramaya and Thuparamaya Stupas are still venerated by Buddhist and these massive works along the large tanks reveal the past glory of the city. The sacred Bo Tree (Sri Maha Bodhi) considered the world’s oldest recorded surviving tree; the seated Samadhi statue of the meditating Buddha; Kuttam Pokuna ( Twin Ponds), many temples and Isurumuniya are some of the attractions in Anuradhapura. There is an abundance of evidence of ancient architecture dating to the third century B.C. and earlier.
Archaeological excavations done under Dr.Shirani Deraniyagala in the inner city of Anuradhapura from 1984 has revealed the existence of artifacts covering seven stages in the inner city. The fist stage covers the Mesolithic age from3900 BC. The second stage is referred to as the iron age of the Mesolithic period, The third stage covering the period 900-600BC is referred as a basic historical iron age with the predominant use of iron. The fourth stage covers the period of 600-500 BC referred to as the early historical age and characterized by the use of Brahmi letters. The fifth stage is 500-250 BC referred to as the lower historical period and marked by features in making earthenware. The sixth stage, covering the period of 250-100 BC has been conspicuous due to the finding of fossils, coins and variety of marbles and ornaments. The seventh stage, covering the period 100 BC.- 300 AD is noted for the discovery of polished earthenware.