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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 02, 2020
Headline for Five Great Temples to visit in Siem Reap – A Window to the Past
Joanna James Joanna James
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Five Great Temples to visit in Siem Reap – A Window to the Past

Lying towards the Northwestern of the Kingdom of Cambodia is Siem Reap, a town that is popular for its infamous archeological sites. Out of many other things that spark the enthusiasm of its travelers, Siem Reap's legendary temples possess a foremost position.


Angkor Wat

The famous Angkor Wat is truly an engineering miracle by definition. It is a temple that floats on a swamp, supported by subterranean water. The gigantic construction has been built under the orders of an autocratic king, Emperor Suryavarman II, to honour God Vishnu, whom he has chosen as his patron. It was also believed that it would act as a gateway to heaven for the king, after his demise. Angkor Wat can be roughly interpreted as the "temple city," a marvellous creation of the human, which has surpassed many construction barriers in a formidable manner. The iconic temple was initially a Hindu shrine before being rechristened as a Buddhist place of worship.


The Bayon Temple

The Bayon temple is iconic for its smiling stone faces that seem to reach out to the world in gazes that are embedded with serenity. The faces are 4 meters in height and point towards the main cardinal points. Although the temple was initially called Jayagiri or the "Victory Mountain," it was later called the Banyon Temple during the French occupancy. The former part of the name was mispronounced as "Bayon" by the native Khmers, resulting in its present name. Lying at the heart of Angkor Thom, the Bayon, also known as the face temple, has been the state temple of Jayavarman VII.


Ta Prohm Temple

Fans of Tomb Raider might be well acquainted with this temple complex, as it served as one of the filming locations for the 2001 movie. Entering this site would give you the feeling of discovering a hidden temple amid a jungle. Ta Prohm Temple has been a monastery that was built by the celebrated king Jayavarman VII as a memorial to his mother. The 600-room structure contains many courtyards and galleries. Some of the walls and entrances of the temple are left grappled by the strong roots and other foliage. While you enjoy the bas-reliefs of this fascinating temple complex, the flocks of parrots that frequent the surroundings would reward you with an authentic vibe of discovering something truly ancient.


Phnom Bakheng Temple

Lying 1.5 kilometres Northwest of the famous Angkor Wat, this temple was the first to be built after the capital was moved from Raluos in the 9th century. It is constructed on the 79-meter tall Bakheng Hill and offers a magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding area. Being a Hindu shrine and the state temple of King Yasowarman I, it has since been converted into a Buddhist Temple. The rectangular foundation carved from the mountain itself, the temple flourishes in its five-tiered glory, topped by five main towers. The central tower is deemed to represent the axis of the world. The surrounding 108 towers positioned in perfect symmetry are symbolic of the four lunar phases. This temple is regarded as a gigantic astronomical calendar.


Terrace of the Elephants

Another enthralling temple of the Angkor Archeological Park is the Terrace of Elephants. As per the name, one can witness unique carvings of elephants on its long wall, which measures up to a length of 350 metres. The wall is not more than 2.5 metres high and was intended as a viewing location, from where King Jayavarman VII was able to witness the victorious return of his army. Located in proximity to some of the best restaurants in Siem Reap the likes of Chi Restaurant, it is a great place to observe the sculptures of mythological creatures of Hinduism and Buddhism.