The City of Angkor was the capital of the Khmer empire which flourished between the 9th-15th Century. In almost every picture of Angkor, you see the incredible Angkor Wat with it’s three standing towers, normally with the colorful backing of the sun rising or falling and the clear reflection of the temples in the water that sits in front of the site.
Just like this one.
Because of this, I had no idea there was more than one temple in Angkor. In fact there are over a thousand temples that fill Angkor city, making the area the world’s largest religious monument.
The temple of Angkor Wat survived the Cambdoia civil war of the 1970s and 1980s and the rule of the Khmer rouge despite being hit by an American shell and obtaining a few bullet holes following a shoot out between Cambodian and Vietnamese troops. Devestatingly though, an art thieving ring operating out of Thailand stole and damaged many of the faces on the temple’s carvings in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The temple that you already know!
Thousands of people turn up to view the sunrise every morning. We left at 4.45am to see the view, and we were still three rows from the front. I recommend heading to the site from 4.15am.
Angkor Thom has an incredible gate leading to it’s entrance, and includes Bayon, the temple with faces.
The gate of Angkor Thom.
The faces of Bayon.
All of the temples have been somewhat damaged by natural elements of weather, human use, growing trees and moss but when visiting the temples of Angkor Wat and Bayon, the most notable is the destruction caused by man. Ta Prohm is a stark contrast in that it has been totally overrun by nature.
The temple was originally founded in the 10th Century. I can’t find records on how old the trees are however, they have grown so tall on top of buildings that they must be hundreds of years old.
Ta Prohm was the filming site for the opening scene in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.