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Temples of Angkor - Cambodia

Bayon Temple, Angkor Ta Promh, AngkorPre Rup, AngkorNeak Pean water templeGateway, Ta SomPreah Khan, AngkorAngkor ThomBayon FacesBauphon Temple, Angkor Thom

The Temples of Angkor covers a huge area - at its height the city of Angkor was bigger than any other city in the world. Some have been recovered from the jungle and partially restored while others still show the destructive power of nature as the buildings are slowly ripped apart by tree roots.

The greatest temple is Angkor Wat which lies just south of the walled city of Angkor Thom. The 13th Century city walls run for 3km on each site, surrounded by a narrow moat and punctured by just four narrow gateways. The bridges connecting these are flanked by 54 gods and 54 demons depicted Churning the Milky Sea, while the gates towers are crowned by four giant faces, serenely smiling down upon visitors.

At the centre of Angkor Thom is the Bayon, another massive representation of Mount Meru, the Hindu holy mountain. Here massive carved faces are on the sides of all 54 towers. The outer gallery has intricate carvings of the daily lives of normal Khmer people - seen at market fishing or working in the fields.

Also within the city is the Terrace of the Elephants, with inricate three headed elephants along with scenes of hunting and fighting elephants adorn the terrace. The Bauphon temple, painstakingly restored from a pile of stones into its original glory was used for both Tomb Raide and Indiana Jones films.

Outside of Angkor Thom is the 'Grand Circuit' - a series of temples built over several hundred years along with the great Barays - irrigation lakes that allowed the city to flourish.

Ta Promh is wild and overgrown with trees breaking through the temple buildings. A giant tree sits astride one of the main halls, slowly crushing it. The complex is quite massive with loads to explore.

Pre Rup is a steep sided pyramid with crubmling towers and expansive views over the surrounding jungle. East Mebon is is the middle of a reservoir and has elephants on the corner of each level.

Ta Som meanwhile is a small ruined temple, whose main feature is the tree slowly crushing the gateway - very dramatic as the gateway has large faces carved into it. The water temple of Neak Pean is reaced by a narrow bridge and is a very peaceful location in the middle of the lake.

Preah Khan is surrounded by a moat and form a large sprawling complex, partially collapsed and overgrown. Some very fine carvings can be seen as well as the roots of trees growing down from the roof.

Phnom Bakheng is set on a high hill and is small and compact but has great views over the surrounding area. Angkor Wat is clearly visible to the south east, while to the west the Western Baray reservoir stretches into the distance. It's a popular place to view the sunset - it can get incredibly crowded - but almost empty the rest of the time.

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