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Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia, and is the gateway to Angkor region.

Siem Reap has colonial and Chinese-style architecture in the Old French Quarter, and around the Old Market. In the city, there are traditional Apsara dance performances, craft shops, silk farms, rice-paddy countryside, fishing villages and a bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake.

Siem Reap today, being a popular tourist destination, has a large number of hotels and restaurants.

  • Angkor Thom Temple

    Angkor Thom Temple

    Angkor Thom is a very popular tourist spot. It was established in the late twelfth century to early thirteenth century by King Jayavarman VII. This site is situated 1.7 Km north of Angkor Wat, within which are located several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors.

    The fortified city of Angkor Thom, some 9sq km in extent, was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire built by Angkor’s greatest King, Jayavarman VII (ruled 1181-1201). 

    Centered on Baphuon, Angkor Thom is enclosed by a square wall 8m high and 12km in length and encircled by moat 100m wide. The city has five monumental gates, one each in the north, west and south walls and two in the east wall. In front of each gate stand giant statues of 54 gods (to the left of the causeway) and 54 demons (to the right of the causeway), a motif taken from the story of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk illustrated in the famous bas-relief at Angkor Wat. 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.

    Constructed: Late 12th – Early 13th century C.E. Religion: Buddhism, King/Patron: Jayavarman VII, Style: Bayon, 

     


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  • Bayon Temple

    Bayon Temple

    Bayon is a richly decorated Khmer temple built in the late twelfth century or early thirteenth century. Built at the centre of King Jayavarman’s capital, Angkor Thom was the last state temple to be built at Angkor, and the only Angkorian state temple to be built primarily as a Mahayana Buddhist shrine dedicated to the Buddha.  Following Jayavarman’s death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance to their religious preferences. 

    Bayon’s most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers that jut from the upper terrace and cluster around its center peak. The similarity of the 216 gigantic faces to other statues of Jayavarman VII has led many scholars to the hypothesise that the faces are representations of the king himself. Others believe that the faces belong to Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.  

    The temple is also popular for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes.  This is one of the many ‘must visit’ temples.

    Constructed: Late 12th century C.E., Religion: Buddhist, King/Patron: Jayavarman VII, Style: Bayon


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  • Angkor Wat - Heritage of Humanity and World Wonder

    Angkor Wat - Heritage of Humanity and World Wonder

    Angkor Wat which literally means ‘City Temple’ is a Hindu temple complex built to replicate the heavens on earth.  Constructed for King Suryavarman II in the early twelfth century, it is the best-preserved temple and is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation; first Hindu, dedicated to Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture.  This magnificent temple combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture; the temple mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early South Indian Hindu architecture. Constructed within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 miles) long with three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next, it is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology. 

    At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west and this has scholars divided as to its significance. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture. The extensive bas-reliefs and the numerous guardian spirits adorning its walls serve as evidence of the strong Khmer religious beliefs.

    Constructed: Early – Mid 12th century C.E., Religion: Hinduism, King/Patron: Suryavarman II, Style: Angkor Wat


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  • Banteay Srei Temple

    Banteay Srei Temple

    Consecrated in 967 A.D, Banteay Srei was speculated to have been known earlier as Banteay Serai, which literally means the Citadel of Victory.  This was the only major temple at Angkor not built by a monarch; its construction is credited to a courtier named Yajnavaraha, who was a scholar and philanthropist and a counselor to king Rajendravarman. He was known to have helped those who suffered from illness, injustice or poverty.

    Banteay Srei is built primarily in red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable in fine details today.  Measured by the standards of Angkorian construction, the buildings themselves are miniature in scale. These factors have led to its being widely praised as a ‘precious gem’, or the ‘jewel of Khmer art’ and perhaps the temple’s modern name, Banteay Srei or Citadel of Women, is probably related to the intricacy of the bas relief carvings of devatas found on the walls and the tiny dimensions of the buildings themselves.

    Constructed: Late 10th century C.E., Religion: Hindu (Shiva), King/Patron: Rajendravarman, Style: Banteay Srey


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  • Banteay Samre

    Banteay Samre

    Large, comparatively flat temple displaying distinctively Angkor Wat-style architecture and artistry. The temple underwent extensive restoration this century by archaeologists using the anastylosis method. Banteay Samre was constructed around the same time as Angkor Wat. The style of the towers and balustrades bear strong resemblance to the towers of Angkor Wat and even more so to Khmer temple of Phimai in Thailand. Many of the carvings are in excellent condition. Banteay Samre id a bit off the Grand Circuit, near the southeast corner of the East Baray. The trip there is a nice little 3km road excursion through villages and paddies. Combine a visit to Banteay Srey with a stop at Banteay Samre on the way back.

    Constructed: Mid 12th century C.E./Religion: Hindu (Shiva)/King/Patron: Suryavarman II/Style: Angkor Wat.


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  • Phnom Bakheng

    Phnom Bakheng

    Phnom Bakheng was constructed more than two centuries before the Angkor Wat. It is a Hindu temple originally built in the form of a temple mountain dedicated to Shiva. Historians believe that Phnom Bakheng was in its heyday, the principal temple of the Angkor region.  It was the architectural centerpiece of a new capital that Yasovarman built when he moved the court from the capital Hariharalaya in the Roluos area located to the southeast. 

    Located atop a hill, this is the most popular tourist spot for sunset views of the much bigger Angkor Wat temple which lies amid the jungle about 1.5 km away.

    Constructed: Late 9th – Early 10th century C.E., Religion: Hindu (Shiva), King/Patron: Yasovarman I,  Style: Bakheng


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  • Tep Pranam

    Tep Pranam

    A long walkway with a Buddha figure at the far end. Tep Pranam was originally a Buddhist shrine in the 9th century under Yasovarman I, the king that moved the capital to Angkor. It was expanded over the years with 12th century balustrades, 13thcentury lions and significant post-Angkorian modifications and additions.

    The Buddha statue at the western end is made from reused material. It is unclear how long that particular Buddha has been there.Constructed: 9th century C.E./Religion: Buddhist
    King/Patron: Yasovarman I/Style: Mixed.


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  • Preah Khan Temple

    Preah Khan Temple

    Preah Khan was built on the site of Jayavarman VII’s victory over the invading Chams in 1191. 

    In its heyday, this was the centre of a substantial organisation with almost 100,000 officials and servants. This temple is flat in design, with a basic plan of successive rectangular galleries around a Buddhist sanctuary complicated by Hindu satellite temples and numerous later additions. With numerous trees and other vegetation growing among the ruins, Preah Khan has been left largely unrestored. 

    Constructed: Late 12th century C.E., Religion: Buddhist, King/Patron: Jayavarman VII, Style: Bayon


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  • Ta Prohm Temple

    Ta Prohm Temple

    Ta Prohm, a Bayon style temple, is believed to be built in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.  It was founded by King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found where the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors.

    Rajavihara (Royal temple), as it was originally known, was one of the first temples founded pursuant to a massive program of construction and public works after the King’s ascension to the throne in 1811 A.D.. It was built in honor of his family. The temple’s main image, representing Prajnaparamita, the personification of wisdom, was modeled on the king’s mother. The northern and southern satellite temples in the third enclosure were dedicated to the king’s guru and his elder brother respectively. As such, Ta Prohm formed a complementary pair with the temple monastery of Preah Khan, dedicated in 1191 A.D., the main image of which represented Avelokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion and was modeled on the king’s father.

    The site was home to more than 12,500 people (including 18 high priests and 615 dancers), with an additional 80,000 people in the surrounding villages working to provide services and supplies.

    Constructed: Mid 12th - Early 13th century C.E., Religion: Buddhist, King/Patron: Jayavarman VII, Style: Bayon


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  • Banteay Kdei Temple

    Banteay Kdei Temple

    Built in the late twelfth to early thirteenth century during the reign of Jayavarman VII, Banteay Kdei is known only as a Buddhist temple constructed in the Bayon style.  It has been occupied by monks at various intervals over the centuries, but the inscription stone has never been discovered so it is mystery; unknown to whom the temple is dedicated. 

    Its structures are contained within two successive enclosure walls, and consist of two concentric galleries from which emerge towers, preceded to the east by a cloister.  Like all the other ruins in Angkor, the carvings are captivating.

    Constructed: Late 12th - Early 13th century C.E., Religion: Buddhist, King/Patron: Jayavarman VII, Style: Angkor Wat/Bayon


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