Angkor Wat History

Built under the reign of king Suryavarman II in the first half of the 12 century, Angkor Wat is the pinnacle of Khmer architecture. Experts have long debated whether the Angkor Wat temple was built for worship or for funerary purposes. Unlike most Khmer temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west rather than the east and the gallery of bas-reliefs is designed to be viewed anti-clockwise, the direction associated with death. Nowadays it’s generally accepted that is was used by the king for the worship of Vishnu and became his mausoleum upon his death.

Detail sculpture at Angkor Wat

Detail sculpture at Angkor Wat

In the late 13th century, Angkor Wat gradually moved from a Hindu temple to a Theravada Buddhist one. Unlike other temples at Angkor which were abandoned after the fall of the Khmer empire in the 15th century, Angkor Wat remained a Buddhist shrine.