About Angkor Thom: Angkor Thom

If you look at the map of Angkor Wat complex, you can see a huge square of Angkor Thom, which is translated as the «Great City» from Khmer. In ancient time it was a fortified city, and in the heyday, in the 12 century, the city was inhabited by over a million people. In the 15 century Angkor Thom was destroyed by the Thai troops.

Generally, tourists go to Angkor Thom after they have visited the temple of Angkor Wat. It is logical from the point of view of the temples location regarding the city of Siem Reap where all hotels are located. The strong wall of Angkor Thom survived, but most of the buildings within the wall were either destroyed or absorbed by the jungle. However, even what remained is very impressive.

The main sights of Angkor Thom are the Bayon temple and the Lion's Terrace. But apart from them, there remained many ruined ancient temples in the jungles. Some of them have already been restored, the other are as they have been found by the Europeans in the 19 century.

An interesting attraction of Angkor Thom is its gates. They have a shape of towers with stone faces similar to those of the Bayon towers. The height of the South Gate leading towards the Angkor Wat temple, reaches 23 meters. Before the South Gate on both sides of the causeway are sculpture groups: on one side, 54 gods pull the head of the snake while on the other side 54 demons pull the snake's tail in the opposite direction. 

Near the South Gate the jungles are inhabited by the monkeys who are not afraid of people feeding them with bananas. As a whole, most of the territory of Angkor Thom is overgrown by the jungles. Interesting temples and sights remained only round the Royal Square in the center of the city. On one side of the square is the Lion's Terrace of 320 meters long. It was occupied by the king and his courtiers during various events and festivals.

Beside the Terrace of Elephants is the Terrace of Leper King, with 6 tiers of bas-reliefs telling about the life of kings. Beyond the terraces there are many small temples, a defensive wall and just the ruins of ancient buildings. Most of them are covered by the roots of huge trees.

On the opposite side of the square within the Angkor Thom temple you can see the so-called Khleang towers. They were erected in the 10 century and, perhaps, functioned as small palaces. Totally, there remained 12 towers, and they are called the Temple of Rope-Walkers. Often the ropes were drawn between the towers and the rope-walkers entertained the people on the square.

Apart from the Bayon, another two large buildings are inside Angkor Thom: the Baphuon temple and the Phimeanakas palace. The Baphuon temple and the Terrace of Elephants are connected with a causeway of 200 meters long. The Phimeanakas palace (celestial temple) was built in the 10-11 centuries by several kings, but it was laid down by the king Rajendravarman II (944-968).

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