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The great city of Angkor Thom covers an area of three square kilometres, enclosed by a wide moat and an eight-metre-high wall reinforced by a wide earth embankment (constructed by Jayavarman VII after the city had been sacked by the Cham in 1177). Numerous monuments are contained within the city. At the centre is the state-temple, the Bayon, one of the great sights of Angkor, dominated by huge faces looking out from its many towers, and boasting two enclosures of bas-reliefs.

North of the Bayon, Jayavarman VII had to squeeze his royal palace (which was built largely of wood, and thus has not survived) into a space between the Baphuon – the state-temple of Udayadityavarman II – and Phimeanakas – the tiny state-temple of Suryavarman I. In front of the palace he had two huge, gloriously carved terraces constructed, to be used as viewing platforms over the royal square and parade grounds.

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