Said to be the "Heaven on Earth" and home of the ancient gods, the Temples of Angkor are a UNESCO World Heritage site north of Siem Reap, Cambodia, spanning an area at least 1,000 square kilometres. This area represents the ruins of ancient Angkorian capital cities of the Khmer Empire reining between the 9th and 13th century and is the pride and source of inspiration for all Cambodians. You’ll be awestruck by its intricate design and humbled by its size. Here's a quick guide on what you can expect from the top five temples.
Evergreen offers you the chance to explore the Temples of Angkor for yourself on Vietnam and Cambodia cruise tours of 12 days or longer.
This ‘temple that is a city’ is known as the centrepiece and mother of all temples. It spans one square kilometre and features a vasy moat surrounding a three tier pyramid and five towers. The best preserved, this Hindu temple’s design has led scholars to believe it was created as a tomb due to its west orientation and wall sculptures which are intended to be viewed in an anti-clockwise direction – typical of Hindu funeral rituals.
Bayon (Angkor Thom)
The ‘Temple of Faces’, this well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple was built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII. Standing at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, the most distinctive features are the smiling stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak.
This Buddhist temple, originally known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King), was built from 1186 and dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII. It is one of the few temples in the Angkor region where an inscription describes the temple’s dependents and inhabitants. Unlike the other monuments of Angkor, Ta Prohm is one of the most atmospheric ruins where it appears to be swallowed by the jungle, the crumbling towers and walls are locked in the embrace of vast tree root systems. Included in UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1992, today it is one of the most visited complexes in the Angkor region.
The ‘Citadel of the Women’, is said to have been built by women, as the elaborate carvings were supposedly too fine for the hand of a man. Built mainly of red sandstone, the elaborate, decorative wall carvings are still observable today and the buildings are miniature in scale, compared to standard Angkorian construction. These features have made the temple very popular and have led to its being praised as a "precious gem" or the "jewel of Khmer art”.
Set deep in the jungle to the north east of Angkor , it was ‘discovered’ in 1969, when ethnologist Jean Boulbet was shown the area by a hermit. You'll find Lingas (an abstract representation of a Hindu deity) carved into the riverbed and images of Hindu deities are dotted about the area. Sculptures can be seen in the river bed, and on river banks, best viewed just after the monsoon season, when the water level in the river starts to drop