An amazing place to visit full on ancient mystery, intrigue…and is one of the 7 Wonders of the World
Angkor Wat is the most popular attraction to visit in Cambodia and the biggest religious monument on earth.
It is close to the Siem Reap City and approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) north.
Siem Reap has its own international airport and easy to fly to from many cities.
The temples are amazing – and something that you will never forget!
The History Of Angkor Wat
You get a sense of history and mystery of Angkor Wat as you cross over a bridge, which was once a moat. Rumored to have contained crocodiles that were said to be used to deter the enemy, more of this impressive site is still being discovered after lost in the jungle for centuries.
Larger than anything the Greeks, Romans or Egyptians built, Angkor Wat is 10 times larger than any cathedral constructed. As you stand before one of the most impressive monuments ever built, you get a clear sense of this mighty Khmer empire – and the grandness it once held. Angor Wat was bigger than New York City, had a population of more than 1 million people, while at the same time London only had 30,000 citizens.
Angkor Wat was built in the first half of the 12th century (between 1113 – 1150 AD), it is estimated that it took 30 years to build and ordered by King Suryavarman II. Much of it still standing today and there is a half a mile high relief carved wall around the perimeter and is the longest of its kind in the world.
The name Angkor Wat means “City of Temples”, but this was not her original name.
The new name Angkor Wat only began to be used in the 18th century. Prior to that the temple was known as “Pisnulok”. This was the official title that King Suryavarman II had bestowed this grand structure.
Angkor Wat holds many secrets and unlike other temples within Angkor Thom Archaeology Park, which are aligned facing to the east – Angkor Wat temple is facing the west.
We don’t know…however Angkor Wat faces the sunset and the evening is a wonderful time to see this magnificent temple as it reflects upon the serene lake. However, the morning also has a certain energy around Angkor Wat, while the dawn rays hit the earth-toned blocks and reflect the radiant light.
Many believe that like other ancient monuments around the world, Angkor Wat is built on ley lines (energy lines of the earth) and this adds to the special feeling.
There is no doubt that Angkor Wat is an extraordinary place and the mighty Khmer empire rose to become one of the most sophisticated cities in the Far East – if not the entire world.
Suddenly, something appeared to strike Cambodia in 1431, when Angkor Wat was quickly abandoned by most.
Many think that it was due to war with neighboring countries, however, records were lost and destroyed over time – so this is something we may never know for sure.
Overgrown by jungle and lost in time, Angkor Wat was said to be rediscovered 400 years in the 1860’s by accident, when a missionary started exploring the area and came across the massive structure.
This discovery was not taken seriously until 60 years later when sober efforts were underway to uncover Angkor Wat from the gripping jungle.
Here it was discovered King Suryavarman (whose name means shield of the sun) is depicted as being tall, muscular and strong leader that was considered a Demi- God among his people.
Angkor Wat was dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu, however, the religion in Cambodia changed in the 13th century from Hindu to Buddhism. This can be seen through its various designs and sculptures on the temple walls depicting the two religions.
An Engineering Marvel:
There is estimated to be 10 million stone blocks used in the construction of Angkor Wat and some are said to weigh as much as 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds).
Quarrying the rock from a mountain 25 miles away, it is believed that the blocks were floated down the river on barges and hauled to the construction site by elephants power. Small holes are found in the stone blocks where it is believed that ropes were secured.
Many people don’t realize that the temples were originally painted on the outside and today, only sparse traces of paint remain on a few of the temple’s exterior wall…and we can only leave it to the imagination what they must have looked like.
The blocks used to build the temple walls, were sealed together by using an almost invisibly type of bonding made from vegetable compound rather than mortar. They were constructed with such precision and accuracy – that one could not slide a piece of paper between the blocks as seen in other noted monuments around the world.
The structure of Angkor Wat is considered both an architectural and engineering marvel, because it is floating on a swamp and supported by a foundation of sub terrain water.
Built on this water table, the base of Angkor Wat is able to withstand the forces of nature from floods during the monsoon rains – the entire building rises and falls seasonally with the level.
Angkor Wat was the largest temple in the impressive Khmer empire and in the 13th century was considered by some as one of the biggest cities in the world, until the industrial revelation hit Europe. Inhabited by an estimated 1 million people during the peak of its reign, Angkor Wat covers an area of 500 acres, which is equivalent to 250 football fields.
A Very Interesting Feature:
A very interesting feature of Angkor Wat is the small chamber that reflects sound – if you stand against one of the walls and beat your chest or sing a note – the sound magnifies back to you.
No one knows what this chamber was used for, however it must have been something of great significance because a smaller version can be found in the temple of Phreah Khan.
We are only now discovering by putting the pieces together – sound seems to have been of great importance to people from many ancient civilizations. Sound chambers have also been discovered at such other notable places as The Pyramids of Giza – Egypt and Machi Picchu – Peru, while scientists are studying the practical application of sound for levitation purposes.
How To See Angkor Wat:
Angkor Wat is a very important part of Cambodia and even displayed on the national flag.
After arriving at Angkor Wat and if you wish to take a private tour, guides will make themselves know to you, who are dressed in the light brown shirts.
Tours guides are available in 4 languages.
English & Thai Guides = $15.00 per 1.5 hour tour.
French & Spanish = $20 – 25.00 per 1.5 hour tour.
Your guide will take you around the notable areas in Angkor Wat, while giving you some of the history of this amazing monument.
Guidebooks can also be purchased in Siem Reap city, which are available most languages and helpful in providing additional information.
One could spend an entire day or two just exploring the labyrinth of corridors that Angkor Wat presents – with its striking high relief artwork and etchings. Equaling the sights of the Pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge or Machu Picchu in Peru – a visit to Angkor Wat should be a definite must on your list of places to visit.
You may like to read our article on Purchasing Temple Tickets for important information you need to know.
The 10 Best Temples in Siem Reap will tell you where we think are amazing temples to see, or you may like Sunset & Sunrise At The Temples Of Siem Reap to find out all the information about experiencing this amazing beauty.