angkor wat

Angkor in translation means City. At its time Angkor was truly the largest city of the world. Even though Angkor is today one of the most famous historical sites, it was laying there forgotten for many centuries in the middle of an impervious Cambodian jungle. It was re-discovered by a French naturalist, Henri Mouhot.



Khmer Empire

The city of Angkor started to form in the 9th century and in the times of its largest boom it was the main center of the Khmer Empire. The Empire had spread from the border of today's Myanmar on the west, all the way to Malaysian peninsula on the south and it covered the whole South Vietnam on the east. The Khmer Empire was on its end taken over by the neigbouring Thais in 1431 and Angkor started to be forgotten. To these days there are more then a thousand monuments preserved a out of the original two hundred temples, only twenty of them are opened to public. Among the most famous temples are Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm and Banteay Srei.



Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the most famous temple of Angkor, it became the symbol of Cambodia and it is pictured on the national flag. The temple was built during the reign of King Surjavarman II, who ruled the country from 1113 to 1150. The construction is exceptional mainly for its majestic architecture, which had been preserved in its original state. From a distance you can see five monumental towers, erecting to the sky. The whole temple is surrounded by a wide water moat and 4.5 meters high and 3.6 kilometers long wall. It is considered to be the largest religious temple in the world.

bayon temple angkor



Angkor Thom – The terrace of a King of Leprocy, The Elephant Terrace, The Baphuon Temple, The Bayon Temple

Nearby Angkor Wat is a town complex Angkor Thom ( a Large City – in translation). This town complex was founded later then Angkor Wat. It was founded during the reign of King Jajavarnan VII, between the years 1181 and 1220. The whole city is surrounded by a wall, which is 8 m high and 13 km long and a hundred meter wide water moat. There are many, more or less, preserved buildings within the city. The grounds are intersected by a long terrace of the Leprocy King and by the Elephant Terrace. The tallest building is the Baphuon Temple and a major and the the most preserved construction is in Angkor Thom is the Bayon Temple. The Bayon Temple is well known by its humungous Khmer faces, which guard all four directions.



Ta Prohm temple

The Ta Prohm Temple is also very famous. It is a temple located in the jungle and you can find it pictured on almost all the Angkor post cards. Its French discoverers left the temple untouched in the overgrown jungle, as a reminder, how forgotten and neglected the temples were for many centuries.

ta prohm angkor



Banteay Srei temple

About 20 km away from the central temples, there is a small, unique Hinduist temple, the Banteay Srei Temple. The temple was built in 967 AD by two Brahmins. The building material is red sandstone and it is covered by rich ornaments and delicate reliefs.



Beng Malea temple

A little further form Angkor is another magical temple, Temple Beng Malea. It is about 60 km away from Angkor Wat. This temple is very large, mostly unexplored and all covered by thick vegetation.

beng malea angkor



How to travel to the temples

If you want to see the Temples of Angkor, you have to go to a town called Siem Reap. The main historical sites are only about 7 km distance from the city. To Siem Riep you can get by a train or a bus from Bangkok, the journey takes about 10 hours and costs between 20 to 40 USD. The second option is a flight to the local international airport. You can purchase the entrance visa right at the border crossing for 10 USD. To be able to see the temples while you are there, you can rent a bicycle, or use one of the local tuk-tuks with a driver, which will cost you about 20 USD for a whole day rental. A tree-day admission to all the temples is 40 USD for a foreign visitor.


You can read more about my travels to Cambodia in a travelogue.



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