Siem Riep/Angkor Temples

About 314km North of Phnom Penh, Siem Riep is a provincial capital base used for sightseeing in the ancient capital of Angkor

Many hotels were built there and others are under construction thanks to the contribution of foreign capital. There are still some buildings from the colonial area called Chinese compartments. The city is located on the site of a battle against Thai armies and those of Khmer Empire, which saw the victory of the latter. Siem Riep also means “Defeat of Siam”. It is also the name of a holy river tributary of Tonle Sap.

Angkor Temples

With the recent completion of international standard hotels, including the renovation of the famous Grand Hotel d’Angkor, one can admire hundreds of ancient monuments and temples. The well-organized tours provide comfort for visitors. An informed professional guide provides information on the history often unavailable in guidebooks. Many temples are to be seen several times a day due to their geographical orientation and angle of the sun.

Angkor was the largest city in South East Asia during the IX-XII centuries. Including many monuments, Angkor temples have been impregnated by the beautiful Khmer architecture: natural, complicated and full of symbols. Hidden in the forest, they are embalmed with the fragrance of Kravan and Rumduol flowers and moved by the mournful song of cicadas. We can take the time that you want to visit the temples. To understand the real Cambodia, we must visit Angkor Complex which is one of the largest archaeological sites in the world but also the spiritual heart and identity of the Khmer people. Angkor is undoubtedly one of the most amazing architectural masterpieces that still exist in the world today.

Without witness, it is impossible to measure the enormity of the work done by the manufacturers of the time and to imagine the construction techniques used. Each component is built on a massive scale and one can only imagine the fear felt by ancient visitors when the civilization was at its cultural peak. It is estimated that over one million people worked to build the largest metropolis of their time. See the two hand-dug tanks that were used to irrigate agricultural civilization: East Baray is 7km long and 1.8km wide and West Baray 8km and 2.3km.

If had been placed in the basin of the Mediterranean, it would have been one of the eight wonders of the world. The Lost City of Angkor was discovered by Western archaeologists before the 19th century and since then it impressed all who visit for the first time. Angkor Wat is the Khmer Empire, whose detailed history was carved on many fortified walls of this temple. The temple is accessible by a giant stone crossing the moat of 190m, they own an amazing feat of engineering.

Angkor Thom was built by the largest manufacturer of Cambodia, Jayavarman VII. This city of ten square kilometers is surrounded by an 8m-high wall and a 100-m moat that were populated by fierce crocodiles. There are five 20m-high doors in the North, West, South and two in the East. Access through the sidewalks on the moat that are between the statues of the 44 gods left and 44 devils right, while apparently engaged in a game tug of war game.

Built by Jayavarman VII at the end of the 19th century, Bayon is geographically located in the heart of Angkor Thom. The tower of 44 temples has a quite remarkable view. By far, the temples seem to be blocks of gray and brown shapeless stones, but when you get closer, you will realize that each tower is actually cut and there are more than two hundred enigmatic faces. No visit is complete without a trip to understand this amazing and unique temple.

Ta Prohm was built in the late 12th century by Jayavarman VII as a shrine to his mother and is also for those who came to Siem Riep. As a monastery, there were almost three thousand priests here including eighteen high priests. Ta Prohm is unforgettable because of the massive trees that were left here intentionally by archaeologists working on the site. In purifying behind the forest, they decided to leave them there to use as a reminder of the discovery. Many trees have grown around and are now higher than the tops of the temple. This temple, with those of the Angkor, are the heart of any visit to Siem Riep.

Phnom Bakheng: The capital built on a solitary hill offers magnificent panoramic views of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and surrounding areas. The late afternoon is the best time to appreciate the spectacular views of Angkor Wat.

Banteay Srei: About 30km north of Siem Riep and 25km north of Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei was built in the second half the 10th century which was dedicated to Shiva. While some temples are impressive due to their sheer size, Banteay Srei is the only one with a very typical construction and decoration. Its sandstone walls are decorated with roses which are in an amazing state of preservation.

The Small Circuit includes several major temples in the area. Starting from Angkor Wat, the 17km circuit continues through the main elements of Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei and some of the most interesting temples as Baphoun, the Terrace of Elephants, the twelve prasats, Spean Thma and Sras Srang before returning to Angkor Wat.

The Grand Circuit of 26km in length is an extension to the small, but taking account of Preah Neak Pean and East Mebon and various monuments as Ta Som, Preah Rup, before returning to Angkor Wat. This tour is highly recommended to anyone passing three or more days in the complex. The Grand Circuit provides a good presentation of the wide variety of site architecture.

Phnom Kulen is considered the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire. It is about 48km from Siem Riep. This site has at its summit the great Buddha lying. It is here that King Jayavarman proclaimed independence of Java. It was returned to the government after the fall of the Khmer Rouge and it currently fairly inaccessible because of poor roads especially during the rainy season. The sector’s strong point is the River of 1000 Lingas. Just 5cm below the water surface, over 1,000 small sizes are etched into the sandstone riverbed while larger stone blocks are cut away with Apsaras, Vishnu and other figures (digits). All the sandstone used in the construction of Angkor was mined here.

The Rolous Group was the principle of Indravarman I (877-889). These were the first temples built of brick with some carved bases. The group consists of three temples of Preah Ko, Bakong and Lolei.

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