Medirigiriya Vatadage is situated in middle of a dry zone forest area adding to its mystic view and has a history going back to the pre-Christian times. The brami characters found on the bricks and the some of the stone carvings is an indication of the long history of this site. The first reference to this site in the chronicles is during the king Kanittha Tissa (192-194) of the Anuradhapura Era. Later many kings have contributed to this complex and finally after the invasion of Maga this site too was abandoned when the Sinhalese migrated to the southern parts unable to withstand the torture
This site was later discovered in 1897 in the middle of a thick jungle by Mr H.C.P Bell and he immediately realised the importance of the site calling it an architectural jewel. Initially the restoration work was done by mainly Muslim labourers as the Buddhist labourers did not want to work at a Buddhist temple for money. This they felt was a sin. This restoration work was finally completed in 1945 and was open to the public giving a glimpse of what this temple would have looked over 1000 years ago.
In 1937, 600 acres were reserved for this archaeological site due to the large number of ruins found in this area. But when this area started to populate with people migrating from various parts of the country, they gradually started destroying and removing these invaluable ruins for sale and as well as to remove any signs of ruins and capture the land. Today only 250 acres remains of the original 600 acres and none of the ruins which filled the landscape around the Vatadage.