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Preah Khan (Kompong Thom)

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Some 70km north of Kompong Thom, the temple enclosure of PREAH KHAN (KOMPONG THOM) is the largest in Cambodia, its central sanctuary featuring the earliest example of four huge faces looking to the cardinal directions, a motif that subsequently became almost synonymous with Cambodian temple architecture. Little is known about the temple’s history. The earliest buildings are attributed to Suryavarman I, and it’s believed that Jayavarman VII spent time here before moving to Angkor – the famous carved stone image of the king displayed in the National Museum in Phnom Penh was found on the site. In the 1870s Louis Delaporte carried off the temple’s prize sculptures (they’re now in the Guimet museum in Paris), while looters have also pillaged the complex in recent years, using pneumatic drills to remove statues – resulting in collapsed towers, crushed apsaras and the broken images that lie scattered on the ground.

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