We flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia, with high anticipation of seeing the famous archaeological sites including Angkor Wat. But first, we toured Tonle Sap Lake to see how the local people live in floating villages. Modern amenities are lacking, to say the least.
Then it was on to the fabulous ancient holy city of Angkor. Built during the zenith of the Khmer Empire between the years 800-1200, the city spans an amazing 96 square miles. The architecture reflects the dominant belief system of each successive time period, and alternates between Buddhism and Hinduism. The crown jewel is the massive temple of Angkor Wat, built between 1113 and 1150.
The scale and grandeur of Angkor Wat cannot be captured in a photograph. (“Wat” means “temple in the Khmer language). Bas-relief carvings are seen throughout the temple.
What images can you see in this close-up of a panel depicting an ancient battle?
But this is just one building among many. Another temple within the archaeological zone is Banteay Srei, or “Citadel of Women.” This is not a large structure, but is known for the fine detail of the carvings in the unique pink sandstone, amazingly well-preserved since its construction in the year 967.
The Bayon is yet another temple located in the archaeological zone, noteworthy for massive facial carvings.
Tourists and locals mingle on the broad roadways…
The temples we have just visited have obviously been excavated, with the jungle overgrowth removed. However, the vegetation has been only partially cleared at one famous temple site, Ta Prohm. Huge tree roots intertwine with the stone blocks, giving a partial hint of what the French archaeologists might have experienced when they found this temple in the mid-1800’s.
If this looks familiar, perhaps you saw it in a movie. The 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie was filmed right here!
That’s enough archaeology and movie trivia for one post. We hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse of a truly amazing site. We say goodbye to Cambodia and are off to Vietnam next.