Angkor Wat is a temple complex within the Angkor Archaeological Park, located about 6 kilometres north of Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was built almost 1,000 years ago, and it is among the most well preserved among the temples in the area. It remains to be used as a major religious center in Cambodia (it was a Hindu temple, now it’s a Buddhist temple). Given its grandeur, it has become the national symbol of Cambodia, and it’s the country’s primary tourist attraction today.
The temple complex was designed in a Khmer architectural style, with a site plan that resembles temple mountains (temples inside that looked like pyramids, with the center part elevated representing the sacred Hindu mountain, Mount Meru, and having the temple complex surrounding by a moat representing the ocean). The temple buildings are also decorated with intricate bas reliefs depicting several stories from Hindu myths.
Angkor Wat was the first temple we visited during our visit to the Angkor Archaeological Park. Our guide Vanna suggested that we visited Angkor Wat first before visiting the other temples not only because it’s the most magnificent to see, but also to provide good overview of the history and the Khmer architecture style.
When we approached the complex for the first time, from a distance we saw what looked like a lake. I didn’t realize that it was moat that surrounded the Angkor Wat complex. Once Vanna mentioned that, we saw the front entrance to the temple — full of tourists from all over the world.
The photo below was taken as we entered the temple complex. You could see the large crowd of tourists, and in the distance part of the temple towers were covered with construction nets as it was in the middle of restoration works. It’s unfortunate that it looked like an eyesore, but it was necessary to preserve this magnificent structure so it can be enjoyed by future generations.