Major city in Sri Lanka
Although people may have lived in this area since as early as the 10th century BC, Anuradhapura became a great city after the arrival of a cutting from the Bodhi Tree ('tree of enlightenment'), the Buddha's fig tree, in the 3rd century BC. The sacred branch was brought to Sri Lanka by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns.
Anuradhapura went on to become a Ceylonese political and religious capital (4th century BC) that flourished for 1,300 years. In its prime, Anuradhapura ranked alongside Nineveh and Babylon in its colossal proportions—its four walls, each 16 miles (26 km) long, enclosing an area of 256 square miles (663 km²)—in the number of its inhabitants, and the splendour of its shrines and public buildings.
The city also had some of the most complex irrigation systems of the ancient world. Most of the great reservoir tanks still survive today, and some many be the oldest surviving reservoirs in the world.
After an invasion in 993 AD, Anuradhapura was permanently abandoned. For centuries, the site lay hidden in the jungle. Rediscovered by the British in the 19th century, Anuradhapura became a Buddhist pilgrimage site once again.
The revival of the city of Anuradhapura began in earnest in the 1870s. The modern city (population 40,000) is a major road junction of northern Sri Lanka and lies along a railway line. The headquarters of the Archaeological Survey of Ceylon is in Anuradhapura.
Today, the splendid sacred city of Anuradhapura, with its palaces, monasteries and monuments, draws many Buddhist pilgrims and visitors.What to See
There is much to see at Anuradhapura, including the sacred Bodhi tree, eight major palaces, monasteries and monuments.
The ancient Magul Uyana is situated close to Isurumuni Vihara and Tissawewa and contains several ponds. There are remains of small cells, seats made of stone steps, and taps of aesthetic sense. According to legend it is believed that Prince Saliya met Asokamala in this garden. The largest pond in this garden is 31 x 55 ft (9.5 x 17 m) in length and breadth. This is not a place of worship.  Vessagiri About half a mile (1 km) to the south of Isurumuniya is situated Vessagiri on a mountains region. Scattered are 23 caves made of stone. Above the caves are inscribed the names of donors. These are the oldest inscriptions in Ceylon written in Brahmi script.
Rathna Prasadaya was built by Kng Kanittha Tissa who ruled Ceylon from 167-186 AD. It is known that during the 8th and 10th centuries Mihindu II and Mihindu IV renovated that building. The bhikkhus of the Tapovana belonging to the Pansakulika sect resided here. Beautiful guard stones of the Abhayagiri Viharaya were found here. The Queen's Palace, containing the largest and the most beautiful moonstones, is near Ratna Prasadaya.
According to an inscription, the Dakkhina Stupa was constructed by Uttiya, a Minister of King Valagamba. For sometime by an error it was considered as Elara's tomb. King Kanittha Tissa had build an alms hall, King Gottabhaya built an uposathagaraya, where the bhikkhis assembled for the ceremony of confession, while King Agbo I constructed a large building. The Bhikkhus of the Sagalika sect resided here. The most popularly known fact is that this stupa was constructed on the tomb of King Dutugemunu. Human bones that were collected were sent to France and according to the scientific analysis it was revealed that these ashes belong to King Dutugemunu.
Sela Cetiya is one of the 16 main places of worship and is situated to the west of Jetavanaramaya. This was constructed by King Lajjitissa who ruled in the first century BC. The diameter of the base of the stupa is 37½ feet (11.4 m). This stupa has been given this name as the platform and stupa has been constructed in stone. A moonstone and guardstones can be seen here.
Naka Vihara is a square-shaped stupa built of bricks. This is constructed according to an unusual model and would have been similar to the 7 storeyed building (Satmahal Prasadaya) in Polonnaruwa. Excavations done in this place reveal that there were several clay caskets.
Kiribath Vehera. The remains of this vihara shows that it is 30 feet (10 m) in height and the circumference is 425 feet (130 m). The date of construction and the king who built it, is unknown. In close proximity to this are the ruins of an image house. There is controversy whether the Pattamaka Chetiya built by King Devanampiyatissa is one and the same.
The most magnificent specimen of bathing tanks is the pair known as Kuttam Pokuna at Anuradhapura, near Abhayagiri Vihara. The garden which separates these 2 ponds is 18½ ft (5.6 m). The larger of this pair is 132 ft in length and 51 ft in breadth (40 by 15.5 m), while the smaller is 91 feet long, the breadth is the same (28 by 15.5 m). The depth of the smaller pond is 14 feet (4.3 m) and the larger pond is 18 feet (5.5 m). The sides and the bottom of the ponds were faced with well cut granite slabs. Round the pond is a magnificent wall. Leading to the pond are a beautiful flight of steps on both sides, and decorated with "punkalas" and scroll design. There were underground ducts bringing water into these ponds and others emptying them. A wall is built to enclose the ponds, and inside it is a small compound.
Samadhi Statue, in the Mahamevuna Park, is one of the best pieces of sculpture on the site. The statue is 8 feet (2.4 m) in height and made of granite and the Dhyana mudra is symbolished - The posture of meditation in which Buddha sits in the cross-legged position with upturned palms, placed one over the other on the lap.  Toluwila Statue Which has a close resemblance to the Samadhi statue at Anuradhapura, was found among the ruins in a temple at Toluwila in Anuradhapura. It is 5'9" (1.75 m) in height. The gap between the knees is 5'9" (1.75 m). The width between the shoulders is 3'5" (1.04 m). At present this statue is placed near the main entrance to the Colombo Museum.
In the sacred city of Anuradhapura and in the vicinity are a large number of other ruins. These have not been identified properly and many have been destroyed either by Tamil invaders or by vandals. Neither tourists nor pilgrims havepaid much attention to these ruins and information regarding this is meager.