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"The Bayon, Angkor complex" Cambodia Things to Do Tip by manil51

Cambodia Things to Do: 668 reviews and 1,011 photos

  The Bayon
by manil51

The Bayon - At the centre of Angkor Thom (literally "Great City"), which forms the heart of the Angkor complex as it is today. This inner city is surrounded by a moat, and approached at the four cardinal points via huge stone gates and causeways flanked by statues of gods and giants. The Bayon forms a three-tiered pyramid with 54 towers, each dominated by over 200 huge, 4-metre high, mysterious faces facing out to the north, south, east and west. Each mystically serene countenance, with closed eyelids and faint smile, represents a Bodhisattaya (fully enlightened being) who delays entry into Nirvana to aid the spiritual development of others.

The structure is rich in decoration, detailing scenes from battles, religious rituals, and everyday life. On approaching from a distance, it resembles a rather formless initially disappointing jumble of stone, but inside, the visitor discovers a maze of galleries, towers and passageways on three different levels. Under the sightless gaze of the ever-present faces, it is here, particularly if alone, that many tourists experience a feeling of profound spiritual awe.

There are several other sites of interest within Angkor Thom, including the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. At its height, the city had a population of nearly one million, and its 9 square km area was comparable in size to anything in Europe at that time.

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  • Written Feb 13, 2005
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