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Angkor – Former Khmer Empire in Cambodia

Angkor Wat temple. Cambodia. Angkor, former capital of important empire is nowadays an abandoned place absorbed by surrounding jungle. Place where you can still find hundreds of temples remainders. The archeologists consider Angkor to be the largest preindustrial city in the world with an urban sprawl of about 3,000 sq kilometers (1,150 sq miles).

The Bayon - temple of smiling faces. Angkor Wat temples area. Cambodia. The famous temples were built during 600 years between 802 and 1432 of the Angkor era when Khmer Empire was known as one of the most important empires in South-East Asia region. The 600 years consists of not only good years, but was also full of territory wars with its neighbors at today’s land of Thailand, Myanmar or Vietnam. The first known ruler was King Jayavarman II. There is not much preserved about his time, except he lived at Java at Indonesia when he was young. The early buildings in that area were risen during the rule of his successor King Indravarman I. He constructed extensive irrigation system, including huge water reservoir and started to build first temples. At that time, the Empire had Hindu religion, so all the temples were sacrificed to Shiva.

Ta Prohm - temple in jungle. Angkor Wat area. Cambodia. The largest buildings were build afterward. The most famous Angkor Wat temple was build during the rule of Suryavarman II, in 12th century. The monumental temple can be taken as an evidence of glory of the Khmer Empire. Angkor Wat was expected to be chantry temple of Vishnu, Hindu’s god personalized with Angkor King Suryavarman II. At that time, Cambodia is starting to be more Buddhist, so you can find also several Buddha statues in the temple.

Library at Angkor Wat temple. Angkor Wat temples area. Cambodia. Another well-known construction is Kingdom city Angkor Thom. It was build at a place of former city was destructed by Cham soldiers coming from today’s Vietnam. Angkor Thom covers an area of about 10sq meters, enclosed in heavy fortification with monumental gates. One of the most interesting building there is Bayon temple, which was one of the first completely Buddhist temples. All buildings are made of huge sandstones. Their transportation and preparation made busy thousands of people. At the end of 13th century, the glory of Khmer Empire began to fade. The Kingdom city was captured by Thai soldiers, so Khmers moved their Kingdom near today’s Phnom Penh, and left Angkor abandoned. The temples were absorbed by surrounding jungle and were forgotten for a long centuries. In the second half of 20th century the place was rediscovered and cut out from jungle.

Angkor Temples are located near Siem Reap town, about 200km northwest of the capital Phnom Penh. Angkor is listed under UNESCO World Heritage Site.


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