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- Angkor Thom -

The Gate of Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. It was established in the late twelfth century by king Jayavarman VII. It covers an area of 9 km², within which are located several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. Angkor Thom may have held at its peak a population of over 100,000, living in tiled or thatched houses. The city was surrounded with rice fields, which provided food; these were irrigated with reservoirs, which also supplied drinking water.
At the centre of the city is Jayavarman's state temple, the Bayon, with the other major sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north.

Angkor Thom was established as the capital of Jayavarman VII's empire, and was the centre of his massive building programme. There are five entrances (gates) to the city, one for each cardinal point, and the victory gate leading to the Royal Palace area. Each gate is crowned with 4 giant faces. The South Gate is often the first stop on a tour.

The Bayon
The Bayon

Exactly in the centre of Angkor Thom are the temple grounds of the Bayon. The crowning glory is the huge dome of the Bayon'. This is under restoration at present and will be a spectacular sight when completed.
The temple grounds have puzzled archaeologists because they do not fit the Hindu religion as does Angkor Wat. Therefore it is assumed that King Jayavarman VII introduced elements of the Buddhist faith into the religious system of Angkor, though it is assumed they were lost after his death.

The palace area of Angkor Thom is located directly to the North of the Bayon. Its basic features were laid out during the reign of King Suryavarman I, 150 years before the construction of Angkor Thom. From the centre of the palace complex rose the Heavenly Palace, Phimeanakas. The king of the Khmer always used to spend the first part of each night in the uppermost part of this Heavenly Palace, where according to legend he had sexual intercourse with the sun queen.

Several high terraces inside Angkor Thom served primarily ceremonial purposes, among them cremations.

The terrace

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