Facts About Sri Lanka

First Hospital in the World

Ancient Sinhalese possibly created the first ever concept of a hospital in the world (a public space to medically treat its citizens)!  Archaeologist’s have found that once  King Pandukabhaya (400 B.C.)  fortified the Kingdom of Anuradhapura,  he went on to build multiple hospitals and lying-in-medical clinics  for the people.  Sadly, the remnants of the ancient hospital in Anuradhapura are in ruins. However, the ruins of the Ancient Hospital in Mihintale, built by King Sena II of Sri Lanka (853-887 AD)  are still standing if you wanted to visit it.

Several Sinhalese Kings of Ancient Sri Lanka are known to be practitioners of medicine. One such ruler was  King Buddhadasa (340–368 AC). He was said to have knowledge in general medicine, surgery, midwifery and veterinary medicine. As stated above, all citizens regardless of caste and creed were allowed to be treated. King Buddhadasa was famous  for conducting a surgical operation on a low caste woman in order to deliver her child. Even animals were given care as it is documented that a tumor from a snake’s belly was surgically removed !

The Kings’ creation of the hospitals to care for his subjects are said to have been inspired from Buddha’s teachings of showing compassion to all beings.  Its amazing because as kings, they could have used their wealth for their own personal pleasure, but Ancient Sinhalese Kings thought otherwise.


Ancient hospital of sri lanka
Ruins of the Mihintale Ancient Hospital complex
Worlds first hospital
Notice the stone outline of a figure. This was used to bathe patients with medicinal oils as a form of treatment.


Ancient hospital facts about sri lanka.
This image shows the outline of the Mihintale Ancient Hospital.  The room on the right translates to a ‘steam room/bath/and toilet’ and on the left is a ‘refectory’ (a room to eat meals)

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