Sunrise over Angkor Wat, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia

Photograph by William Leonard


Angkor Wat is one of the most iconic sites in Southeast Asia and has the distinction of being the world’s largest religious monument. The Temple Complex is the heart and soul of Cambodia and the Khmer national symbol. Angkor Wat is the most famous of Cambodia’s temples, featuring on the Cambodian flag and money.

Angkor Wat was built during the reign of Suryavarman II, who reigned between 1113-1140 AD. He unified Cambodia and extended Khmer influence across much of Southeast Asia. He was famed also for his dedication to the Hindu god Vishnu, in whose honour the temple is built. Angkor Wat slowly was converted to Buddhist use, as Buddhism swept the region. The temple is based upon the spatial universe in miniature and the famous pools in front of the temple were used by the builders to make sure the towers were being built straight when on top of them.

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