Angkor Day 0
Siem Reap Travel Blog› entry 20 of 49 › view all entries
The Angkor temples are locted near Siem Reap, a small city in western Cambodia. Though the most famous of these is Angkor Wat ("City Temple") the area is filled with structures of all sizes built during the Angkorian Empire (9th-14th centuries); one of the most powerful Asian empires of its time. Angkor Wat itself is the largest religious structure in the world.
We purchased a 7 day pass to explore as many temples as we could but we only managed about half of them.
Our first day at the Angkor temples was actually a night. We rented some bicycles and peddled our way up. Since we purchased our passes at about 5pm we were allowed up that night for a free sunset. Since everyone piles into Angkor Wat for about that time, we decided to go to the Bayon, located at Angkor Thom.
The Bayon was the state temple of King Jayavarman VII (early 12th century) and his successors. This temple passed through several religious stages in Khmer (Thai/Cambodian) history, from the pantheon of ancient Khmer dieties, through the adoption of the Hindu religion and finally to Buddhism.
The most intriguing feature of the Bayon are its numerous face towers. 37 remain standing but it is believed there were at least 49 in the original design. Most of the towers have 4 faces, placed at each of the cardinal directions, but some have only 2 or 3. At first I believed them to represent Brahma, the 4-faced god of creation from Hinduism, but the towers predate the adoption of that religion by the Khmer. Apparently the towers are the face of Jayavarman VII overseeing the whole of his kingdom. The shear number of towers and faces is awe-striking.