10 most famous temples in Cambodia you should know
If Siem Reap is not included in your schedule, it is considered that you have never been to Cambodia. If you miss the amazingly enormous temples here, you never know the greatest of Khmer architecture.
Hundreds of sacred temples in Angkor have still scattered on a large area between the Tonle Sap and the Kulen Mountains in Cambodia which are sacred vestiges representing the great political, religious and communal centers the ancient empire for a while.
1. Ta Keo
Ta Keo is an uncompleted temple where is dedicated to the Shiva, built by King Jayavarman V, son of Rajendravarman when he was 17 years old. However, this temple have never completed since his death. Legend has it that the temple was struck by lightning during construction and all work was stopped at the time the main structures were completed. Takeo Temple is the only uncompleted temple in the Angkor Thom. Ta Keo was made from green sandstone, completely different from the dark brown or gray one of other temples in Angkor.
2. Banteay Kdei
Banteay Kdei , also known as “the holy land of the monks”, is a Buddhist temple in Angkor. It has location in southeast of Ta Prohm and east of Angkor Thom. Banteay Kdei was built in the middle beginning of the 13th century under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This intricate Buddhist monastery is currently in ruins due to the faulty construction and poor quality of the sandstone used in its buildings, which are currently being renovated. Banteay Kdei was occupied by monks for various periods of time throughout the centuries until 1960. The sculptured design which belongs to the remnants of Banteay Kdei is very impressive. It has charm, sophistication, and not too trivial. This is the place of worship of human beings.
3. Pre Rup
There are three central towers in Pre Rup and from above, it looks like a little Angkor Wat. After a period of political upheaval, Pre Rup was the second temple built from Koh Ker capital’s establishment. Pre Rup is made from gray sandstone, less durable than pink sandstone like some of the other temples in Angkor. Over the centuries, the intricate details of carving on the temple are no longer intact by rain and erosion. The temple was used as a place of cremation for the descent of the royal family.
4. Preah Khan
Preah Khan Temple is one of the biggest complex ones in Angkor. Preah Khan has been restored quite a lot same with the nearby temples where was built by King Jayavarman VII to make his temporary residence while Angkor Thom was under construction. There are four entrances to the temple doors. Eastern entrance is dedicated to Mahayana Buddhism with equally sized doors. The other main direction is used for Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma with a smaller entrance, emphasizing Hinduism’s inequality.
5. Phnom Bakheng
Phnom Bakheng is a Hindu temple in the form of a mountain temple. It was built at the end of the 9th century and the architectural center of a new capital during the reign of King Yasovarman. The temple is orientated to the east which was built in a six-storey pyramid. After completion, Phnom Bakheng has 108 small towers surrounding the temple on the ground and on the floors. Situated on the top of a hill, Phnom Bakheng is a popular tourist spot for gorgeous sunsets. When visiting Phnom Bakheng, do not forget to take some photos of Angkor Wat.
6. Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei is one of the smallest temples in Angkor and quite far from the main temples. However, with very beautiful details of carving, Banteay Srei is extremely attractive to visitors and considered to be a jewel of Khmer art. It was built of pink fine sandstone, the walls of temple have elaborately decorated with floral motifs and epic image of Ramayana. Read more here: Banteay Srei.
7. Angkor Thom
As the last and longest capital of the Khmer empire, the name Angkor Thom means "great city". Angkor Thom was built by King Jayavarman VII at the end of the 12th century. Located on an area of 9 km², there are many temples dating from the previous periods as well as the temples built by Jayavarman and his followers within Angkor Thom. At the center, it is the national temple of Jayavarman, Bayon temple, with other monuments gathered around the Victory Square.
8. Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm is built as a Buddhist temple dedicated to Jayavarman VII's mother from 1186. This is one of the few temples in Angkor that have evidence of providing information about the temple's residents. The shrine is the residence of over 12,500 people, including 18 priests, 80,000 Khmer people who were asked to live in the surrounding villages for maintaining the temple. After Khmer Empire’s collapse in the 15th century, temple was abandoned and covered by tropical forests.
9. Bayon Temple
Built in the 12th century by Jayavarman VII as part of the expansion of Angkor Thom, in the center of the royal city, Bayon Temple also is the only national temple in Angkor built mainly for Mahayana Buddhism, exclusively spend for the Buddha. After the death of King Jayavarman, Bayon was restored by Hinduism. Due to the majesty of scale as well as the mystical spiritual sensation of admiring the temple, it is considered being the most impressive temple in the Angkor complex.
10. Angkor Wat
As the most beautiful and largest temple of all temples in Angkor, Angkor Wat is situated on a large area of nearly 200 hectares, surrounded by a giant reservoir which reflects the idea of the traditional Khmer temple. Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the first half of the 12th century, Angkor Wat is the pinnacle of Khmer architecture. The temple is famous for its bas-reliefs, Hindu epical description, legends of Hindu deity and immortal life. There are many reliefs engraved on the walls of the temple. At the end of 13th century, Angkor Wat gradually moved from a Hindu temple to Mahayana. It is quite different to other temples in Angkor, abandoned after the collapse of the Khmer Empire in the 15th century, Angkor Wat has still existed as a Buddhist temple.