The focal point of the old city refers to the Quadrangle also known as Dalada Maluwa, which is a sacred complex comprising the ruins of Polonnaruwa’s amazing buildings.
In the south of the Quadrangle there is a Shiva Devale with strong Hindu architectural features that was built in the 13th century. The stonework is specifically significant and extraordinary. The domed roof collapsed many years ago, but some fine bronzes that were recovered during excavation work are now in the Polonnaruwa Museum.
The Thuparamaya is a well preserved image house and is one of the best examples of a gedige, a uniquely Sinhalese architectural style which became popular at Polonnaruwa. Even though it is the smallest gedige, it is the only gedige in Polonnaruwa that is still covered by a roof. It has extremely thick brick walls that were barrel vaulted and decorated with cement figures all around. The roof was domed and framed housing several Buddha statues.
Latha Mandapaya (Floral Altar)
King Nissanka Malla built this building during a time of change in architecture when the previous styles were replaced with elaborate adornment. This is well reflected in the exquisite carved columns resembling lotus buds atop of spiral stalks. A stone latticed fence surrounds a small dagoba with a circle of columns.
Atadage (House of Eight Relics)
The Atadage, the first Temple of the Tooth was built by King Vijayabahu I in the 11th century. It is the only extant structure dating back to this period. The remains are the gilded columns which formerly held a wooden roof and a Buddha statue.
Hatadage (House of Seven Relics)
This relic house is similar to the Atadage in design, concept and purpose. It was quite possible that it was built after the Atadage. Its chamber with thick walls also housed the Tooth relic since by the time of its construction it would have become the most important token of power.
A creation of extraordinariness that has been revered with prominence in Sri Lankan history, this circular relic house is one of the most brilliant in Vatadage style in Polonnaruwa. This house contains two terraces, one above the other with upper tier having four entrances. The roof is missing, sadly but you can see what it may have looked like from a detailed scale model that is exhibited in the new museum. It has a small stupa, possibly to enshrine the Tooth Relic or Alms Bowl Relic of the Lord Buddha. There are four Buddha statues and staircase that face the four cardinal directions. This Vatadage has splendid carvings, which had later additions such as the florid makara balustrade, an ancient design of temple architecture of India. Brilliant stonework can be found on the guard stones at the base of the steps leading to these terraces. There is an incredible moonstone at the northern entrance of this building.
Gal Potha (Stone Book)
Gal Potha, Stone Book, is an enormous book carved out of rock. It is found on the eastern side of the Hatadage and its long slab has inscriptions of the virtues and deeds of King Nissanka Malla. The inscriptions also say that the slab of stone was brought to this location from Mihintale. This kind of writing was usually done on traditional ola leaf manuscripts, but the arrogant king wanted to ensure that his deeds would not be forgotten hence the engraving set in stone.
Satmahal Prasadaya (Seven Storied Edifice)
This building was influenced by oriental architecture since the style was very unusual and complicated. It was like a stepped pyramid with six stories erected one above the other. Each corner of the floors had once held figures of which now only remnants remain. The uppermost storey is missing.