Angkor Thom is huge, 9 square km huge. Inside it’s walls you will find The Bayon, The Terrace of the Elephants, The Baphuon, Preah Ngcoc and many more. It was the 4th site I visited on the small circuit of Angkor. We entered through Victory Gate, drove passed The Terrace of the Elephants, parked near Preah Ngcoc and left through the South Gate. For me this ancient city was the most impressive and most beautiful of all the Angkor sites.
Angkor Thom, meaning Great City, was the last capital of the Khmer Empire. It was built in a square, and was surrounded by a square wall, 8m high and 12km in length and further protected by a 100m-wide moat (now dry), said to have contained ferocious crocodiles. A gate opens exactly in the middle of each wall, from which a bridge extends over the moat to the area outside the city.
Terrace of the Elephants is a two and a half-meter tall, 300 meter long terrace wall adorned with carved elephants. Legend had it that the King used this platform to view his victorious returning army. It was also used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall.
The Bayon Temple is situated in the centre of the walled city, it represents the intersection of heaven and earth. It is known for its smiling faces. Originally there were 49 towers, decorated with large carved faces looking into each of the four cardinal directions. Close to 200 faces, the largest ones being almost 2½ meters high, decorate the 37 remaining towers. This is one of the most famous buildings of Angkor.
The Baphuon, a temple built in 1066.
This three-tiered mountain temple was build in the mid eleventh century as a state temple to the king and dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. A Chinese Ambassador in the 13th century described it as a copper tower. This suggests that the temple may have been sheathed in bronze plates and must have been a truly impressive sight.
There is an interesting, 200 meter, elevated stone pathway from the front gate to the temple.
It is a very steep climb to the top of the temple, but you are rewarded with panoramic views. Not so many people here.
It is a small temple with a large seated Buddha under a pavilion. The pavilion is of recent times but the Buddha is from the 12 to 13 th century.
Angkor Thom is truly an impressive and astonishing site!!
I passed this group 0f disabled musicians with traditional instruments as I exit the park. They were all the victims 0f landmines.