Yapahuwa, a natural hillock in the north-western region, may be regarded as an archaeological heritage site. According to archaeological excavations done on the eastern slope of the Yapahuwa hillock it has been discovered that there had been human activity from pre-historic times (5000 years before the present). Stone caves with drip-ledges and pre-Brahmi inscriptions of the third century BC confirm that Yapahuwa has functioned as a Buddhist religious centre. Yapahuwa comes into prominence in Sri Lankan history with the Magha invasion in 1215 AC. Since Yapahuwa was built as a provincial stronghold it was developed into as a fortress as the fourth kingdom by Buvanekabahu I (1272-1284 AC). Archaeological evidence confirms that it was a city built up as a secured fortress.

An important artistic creation in Yapahuwa is the porch with the elegant flight of steps. This flight of steps made of stone slabs on the deep incline ends at the porch of the Dalada Maligawa with beautiful stone carvings. In 2011, archaeological research and heritage management at Yapahuwa was undertaken by the Central Cultural Fund under the North-western Cultural Triangle. Under this program archaeological excavation, architectural conservation and conservation of murals are done at several archaeological sites centred on Yapahuwa.