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"Largest religious monument in the world" Angkor Wat Tip by Willettsworld

Angkor Wat, Angkor Wat: 228 reviews and 461 photos

  Angkor Wat at sunset
by Willettsworld
  • Angkor Wat at sunset - Angkor Wat
      Angkor Wat at sunset
    by Willettsworld
  • Central prasat - Angkor Wat
      Central prasat
    by Willettsworld
  • Largest religious monument in the world - Angkor Wat
  • The Churning of the Milk bas-relief - Angkor Wat
      The Churning of the Milk bas-relief
    by Willettsworld
  • Largest religious monument in the world - Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat (meaning City Temple), is the single largest religious monument in the world and is considered by historians to be the ultimate example of classic Khmer architecture. It's the most famous structure at Angkor and will probably be the first one you'll visit as it's the closest to Siem Reap and the first one you'll come to after buying your ticket. For me, I wasn't actually blown away by it in terms of beauty or impressiveness (if there is such a word), as other areas of Angkor such as the Bayon with it's amazing tower faces, Ta Prohm with the jungle taking its choke-hold or Banteay Srei with its intricate carvings got my senses buzzing more. That said, Angkor Wat is amazing in terms of sheer scale but the one single thing that sets it above any other structure are its wonderful bas-reliefs which line the walls of the gallery that surrounds the main central towers known as prasats. The most famous one of these is called the Churning of the Sea of Milk. Most of them have lost their original colours but some of them look like they've been restored and look really colourful.

And the now the historical stuff. Angkor Wat was built between 1113 and 1150 during the reign of King Suryavarman II and was originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu before that of Buddha. In size alone Angkor Wat is breathtaking. The outer walls stretch for 1.5 km east to west and 1.3 km north to south, and the walls are encircled by a beautiful moat almost 200m wide - the entire site takes in some 200 hectares.

Unusually for a Khmer temple, Angkor Wat is orientated to the west. As the west is symbolically associated both with death and Vishnu, there has been some debate over the purpose of the complex - tomb or temple? The prevalent opinion is that Angkor Wat was both - a temple to Vishnu and a tomb for its creator, Suryavarman II.

Like all temple mountains, Angkor Wat is a model of the divine — playing out Hindu mythology in both its construction and spectacular bas reliefs. At the centre of the Hindu (and Buddhist) universe sits Mount Meru, a holy peak some 750,000km high on the mythical continent Jambudvipa. Atop the mountain sits the home of Brahma and other gods of both religions. At Angkor Wat, this mountain is represented by Angkor's central tower which in turn is surrounded by smaller peaks, then the continents are represented by the outer courtyards and finally the ocean is illustrated with the moat.

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Apr 27, 2010
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