1. Angkor Wat
The largest and most famous temple in this expansive complex, Angkor Wat dates from the early 12th century. The huge building is decorated with ornate carvings and reliefs. Many of the artworks in the temple depict scenes of Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The temple’s pillars and walls are also adorned with depictions of heavenly nymphs and Hindu deities.
Take a virtual walk through this ancient site to see the intricate Khmer architecture and to learn more about the culture and religious beliefs of this once mighty empire.
2. Bayon Temple
The Bayon Temple is another of Angkor Wat’s iconic sights. Built in the late 12th or early 13th century, the temple is most notable for the sea of serene, smiling faces that look down on visitors from the building’s towers. These faces have been associated with Buddha as well as the Hindu God Brahma and give the temple a unique feel and fascinating aesthetic.
Markedly different in style to the main Angkor Wat temple, the Bayon Temple was the last state temple to be built at the site and the only one constructed primarily to worship Brahma. Take a digital tour around the temple’s terraces, galleries, and towers to get a real feel for the culture that built this incredible structure.
3. Ta Prohm
One of the most photographed temples in the complex, Ta Prohm has been left largely in the condition in which it was found. Huge trees grow from many of the temple’s walls, giving the site a very evocative feel and a fantastic aesthetic. Built in the Bayon style, this photogenic temple is one of the top sights in the Angkor complex.
Explore Ta Prohm to see how the jungle is slowly reclaiming the temple complex and to get a feel for how the entire site may have looked before it was restored and nature forced to retreat.
4. Angkor at sunset
Sunrise and sunset have always been important moments for the religious communities at Angkor Wat. One of the best places to see the sun go down is Phnom Bakheng. The 9th century structure was dedicated to Shiva and built in the form of a temple mountain. Constructed around 200 years before Angkor Wat, it’s thought that Phnom Bakheng was the region’s principle temple in its day.
As Phnom Bakheng is such a popular viewpoint, it attracts thousands of visitors every year. This has done considerable damage to the temple’s structure and it’s currently one of the most threatened monuments of Angkor. Enjoy the views from the site without doing any damage by taking a virtual tour of this lofty temple.
5. East Mebon
Built in the 10th century, during the reign of King Rajendravarman, the East Mebon once stood on an artificial island in the middle of the now dry East Baray reservoir. The temple was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, it has 3 tiers and 2 enclosing walls as well as a wealth of sculptures, towers and platforms.
As the East Mebon is slightly off of the main tourist trail, it’s a great place to see a different side of Angkor Wat. Take advantage of the crowd-free photos to get a little closer to the temple’s beautiful sculptures and to really get to know the architecture and art of this unique site.
By Eliot ElisofonLIFE Photo Collection