Who has not heard of Angkor Wat, one of the biggest, most highly eulogized religious buildings in the world? Few newly arrived tourists are aware that they will explore a vast number of monuments during their visit here, temples, cities, shrines, reservoirs etc… with famous Angkor Wat being only one of them. Quite a few of them, like Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm or Banteay Srey, to name the most famous, can easily compete with the so famous Angkor Wat or even surpass its magic!
The highly developed architecture and carvings that characterize these monuments are an outstanding example of the Khmer civilization that flourished between the 8th and 13th century. The area of Angkor was the site of various capitals of this Khmer empire, which was one of the most powerful empires in South East Asia then.
Our guide book describes 47 temples in Angkor, some as far as 80 kilometers away from Siem Reap. We assume this is only a small fraction of the many monuments in the area, namely those that are accessible. In the next few entries, we only briefly described the highlights of this enormous site, because experts have filled libraries with their knowledge, so any attempt on our behalf would have been ludicrous. Instead, we concentrated on very personal observations.
The first excavation work started in the late 19th century by French archeologists, which slowed down during World War II and was later completely disrupted by a long period of war & unrest. Only when Angkor was given World Heritage status did the conservation work resume in the mid 1990s.