Angkor, at the heart of the Khmer empire, is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Stretching over hundreds of square miles, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. There are always mysterious things that attract many visitors from all over the world to come and discover. You might be one of these!
Brief introduction to Angkor Capital
The high concentration of monuments at Angkor Thom and their relative proximity to one another make for a visit on foot that offers a complete, albeit summary, an overview of Khmer architecture as well as a picture of the life of that time.
A walk around the walls, with their monumental gates and the divine protectors standing in front of them, reveals how the defense of the complex was based on more symbolic-esoteric elements than on military structures proper, while a walk inside the palace enclosure revolves around the Phimeanakas, an ancient legendary site.
Around the Royal Square, the luxurious monuments – the Baphuon, the Terrace of the Leper King and Terrace of the Elephants, the Terrace of Tep Pranam, the Prasat Suor Prat and the Khleang (whose function is still a mystery) – bespeak imperial grandeur.
The complex and rather disturbing Bayoniss the last megalomaniacal monument built to honor the deification of the king. The looming presence of these gigantic constructions is mitigated by the large areas of greenery that were once populated by dwellings and service structures and are now an oasis of dream – like silence that boasts the Preah Palilay with its carved scenes from Buddha’s life and the fascinating, deserted temples of the Preah Pithu.
About the legendary history
Angkor Thom is an almost square city surrounded by 8 meter high walls a little over 12 kilometers long with five impressive gopura gates providing access to the city. The city’s name translates to “large city” or “great city”.
King Jayavarman VII made Angkor Thom the new capital of the Khmer Kingdom after driving out the Chams , who destroyed the old capital Yasodharapura. He fortified the city by building a high wall around it, in turn, enclosed by a 100-meter wide moat.
Where to visit in Angkor Wat?
Prek Toal A bird lovers’ paradise, the Prek Toal Sanctuary is home to rare storks and pelicans.
Tonle Sap Lake
The floating villages in the Tonlé Sap Lake promise outstanding sunset scenery.
The temples of Angkor were built between the 9th and 14th centuries when Khmer civilization was at the height of its extraordinary creativity.
From Angkor, the kings of the mighty Khmer empire consolidated their position as one of the greatest powers of South-East Asia, ruling over a vast territory that extended from the tip of what now is southern Vietnam north to Yunnan in China and from Vietnam west to the Bay of Bengal.
It is easy to spend a week or more at Angkor, seeing the temples at a leisurely pace, even returning to the main attractions several times to see them in different light conditions. Unparalleled in South-East Asia, Angkor rates among the foremost architectural wonders of the world and is truly magnificent.
Angkor Wat is the largest and most breathtaking of the monuments of Angkor. It is also the best preserved and never fails to reward repeat visitors with previously unnoticed details.
Most probably it was constructed as both a temple and mausoleum for Suryavarman II (ruled 1112-52) to honor Vishnu, the Hindu deity.
The fortified city of Angkor Thom was built by Angkor’s greatest king, Jayavarman VII (ruled 1181-1201). The city has five monumental gates, one each in the north, west and south walls and two in the east wall.
In the center of the walled enclosure are the city’s most important monuments, including the Bayon, the Baphuon, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas and the Terrace of Elephants.
The Bayon takes an easy second place after Angkor Wat as the most popular of Angkor’s many monuments. It’s a place of stopped corridors, precipitous flights of stairs and, most of all, a collection of 54 gothic towers decorated with over 200 coldly smiling, gargantuan faces of Avalokiteshvara.
The temple of Ta Prohm rates with Angkor Wat and the Bayon as one of the most popular attractions of Angkor.Its appeal lies in the fact that, unlike the other monuments of Angkor, it has been left to be swallowed by the jungle and looks very much the way most of the monuments of Angkor appeared when European explorers first stumbled upon them. Indiana Jones would be thrilled.
This place is absolutely a promised land that attracts millions of curious adventurers every year. Have you ever been here? If not, try it now!
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