Angkor Wat is the most breathtaking and balanced
temple in the world. With its five towers, it's one of the most
perfect contruction works ever seen. It is the most important
temple of the Angkor Archaeological Park and presents the art
and architecture of the Khmer Empire the best.
Angkor Wat has a total surface of 80ha and it's one of the
biggest religious buildings in the world. The temple is well
preserved and was constructed as a reproduction of the universe.
The pyramid in the middle is the symbol for the holy mountain Meru,
the residence of the gods. The towers symbolize the peaks of the
mountains. The inner courts are the continents and the outer walls
the mountains at the edge of the world. The moat around the temple
presents the ocean.
The Angkor Wat temple was founded by Suryavarman II (1113-1150).
It took almost 30 years to build. Special about this temple is that
the entrance is pointed to the west. This raised some questions
about the function of the temple. Was it used for religieus
ceremonies or as a grave tomb? The West is asscociated with the
sunset and the death but also with the Hindu god Vishnu. Probably during King Suryavarman II
life, the temple was used for ceremonies and after his death as his
The 200 m wide moat has an outline of 5 km and runs around the
temple complex. The water is supplied by the river in Siem Reap. To
enter the temple a paved pad out of massive sand blocks was made.
The sand blocks come of the quarry at Kulen Mountain, around 50 km
away from Siem Reap. With rafts they carried these blocks down the
river to Siem Reap. This operation consumed the labour of thousands
people. No modern utilities were available in that time.
First you cross the outer wall. It has three access ports which
lead you to the galleries. The outer wall is 1025 m by 800 m. An
avenue of 475 m long and 9.5 m wide with naga balustrades go from
the main entrance to the central temple. On the way you will pass
two libraries and two pools. Only the left pool is filled and is
the most popular place to watch the sunrise and to take pictures.
If you are lucky you will have an amazing reflection of Angkor Wat
in the pool.
The central part of the temple consists out of three levels.
Each level encloses a square surrounded by linked galleries.
On the first level you can found the Gallery of a Thousand
Buddhas. It used to display hundreds of Buddha statues but most of
them were destroyed or stolen. A few are still left to admire.
The second level is surrounded by towers on the corners. On this
level you find on the inner wall more than thousand graceful
Apsaras, goddess with exotic hairstyle and jewelry.
The third level was only accessible for the king and the high
priest. Here you have the 42 m high majestic central temple with on
top the sanctum of God Vishnu. You can climb up the towers but be
carefull for the steep stairs. Wooden staircases are built now to
make climbing up to the kingdom of the god an easier
Angkor Wat is surrounded by many galleries with astonishing
bas-reliefs. They present a brief description of the epics events
of that time. Most of them were established in the 12th century,
some were added in the 16th. Take your time to admire
This panel symbolize the battle of the Hindu Mahabharata. The
Kauravas (coming from the left) and the Pandavas (coming from the
right) meet eah other in a serious battle. At the bottom you find
infantry and musicians. Obove you find the officiers in their
chariots or on elephants directing their troups. On this panel you
will find some interesting details like a dead chief lying on a
pile of arrows or a worrior putting down his wapen as a symbol of
These two panels presents the army of Suryavarman II. On the
first one you see the battlemarch of soldiers on foot and their
officers on horses. Above them you find their commanders. You find
Suryavarman II on a elephant. He is protected by 15 parasols and
surrounded by servants. The army at the end of the panel with long
headdresses and ragged marching allied with the Khmer against the
This gallery displays the 37 heavens and 32 hells. On the left
you find nice and respectful gentlemen and ladies. The god Yama is
sitting on a buffel giving the last judgement to the death. The
elected ones go to heaven and will enjoy a luxurious life. The
others will follow the path to hell where they will be
This is the best know bas-relief of Angkor Wat. On the left side
you have 92 asuras (demons) the head of the snake Vasuki. On the
right you have 88 devas (gods) holding the tail of the reptile. You
can recognise the demons on their helmets, spherical eyes and their
harsh expression. The gods are wearing cylindrical hats and have
almond-shape eyes. The gods and the demons pull the snake so that
the Mountain Mandala moves and pulls milk into the ocean. The
elixir of eternal life is released and the demons and gods
experience eternal life.
This shows the encounter between Vishnu and several devils. This
panel was most likely made in the 16th century.
Krishna is the reincarnation of Vishnu. He has eight arms and
many heads. He asks the release of the demon King Bana.
This gallery symbolizes the mythological battle between the gods
and demons. You can recognize the gods by their tradtional
This is one of the most beautiful bas-reliefs you can find in
Angkor Wat. It shows the battle of Lanka, Rama who fights with his
army of monkeys against Ravana who abducted the wife of Rama.
Ravana rides a chariot commanding an army of giants.
Discover the magic of Angkor Wat in this wonderful video by
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