Angkor Thom

The last great capital of the Khmer empire, Angkor Thom (literally “Great City”) took monumental to a whole new level. It was built in part as a reaction to the surprise sacking of Angkor by the Chams. King Jayavarman VII decided that his empire would never again be vulnerable at home. Beyond the eight meter (26 ft) high walls is a massive moat that would have stooped all but the most determined invaders. Angkor Thom seems not to be the first Khmer capital on the site, however. The earliest dated from the early 10th century but was completely remodeled and rebuilt by Jayavarman VII in the early 13th century.

Numerous monuments are contained with the city. Right at the heart of the ancient city is Bayon, the state temple dominated by huge faces looking out from its many towers. The royal palace of Jayavarman VII was located north of the Bayon. It was built largely of wood however and thus has not survived.

Angkor Thom

Entry Gates

The city wall has a sanctuary tower at each corner and five entry gates; one per cardinal direction plus an additional eastern portal, the Victory Gate. The gates each feature a tower topped by four huge faces, similar to those at the Bayon. The most fascinating way to enter Angkor Thom is through the south gate. The causeway here is flanked by 54 gods and 54 demons depicting parts of the popular Hindu legend “The Churning of the Ocean of Milk”.