of Angkor Wat
The biggest religious monument ever built and also one of the most spectacular, Angkor Wat is certainly deserving of its place in the seven new wonders of the world. It's a symbol of national pride to Cambodians, sacred and stamped at the centre of their national flag. Constructed 1113-1150 by Suryavarman II the god-king, dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. Surrounded by a vast moat, with a central tower a soaring 55 metres high and cornered by four superbly symmetrical towers, it's a truly fantastic sight. The walk across the causeway as you enter is magnificent. If you do this at sunrise, remember to bring a torch! You reach the upper levels (Bakan) via steep staircases representing the slopes of Mount Meru, home of the ancient gods. Access to the Bakan is via a ticketing system and you will need to meet the dress code rules to enter. There are over 1000sq km of bas-reliefs decorating the temple, including the longest continuous bas-relief in the world. There are more than 2000 unique apsaras (heavenly nymphs) carved into the walls. The sandstone used is thought to have been quarried from a distant mine and floated down the Siem Reap river on rafts. The temple depicts epic tales of Hindu mythology and is the only one in the park to face west, which usually symbolises death. It is thought to be facing this direction because Vishnu is frequently associated with the west, rather than it being a tomb. Angkor Wat is in such good condition because unlike the rest of the buildings around it, has remained in constant use by Buddhist monks since being built. *NOTE* - Sunrise gets very busy here. The desired place to stand to get the iconic pictures is just next to the baray (reservoir), to the left front of the Temple. Unfortunately, this has become a spectacle in itself, people standing on chairs with their iPad in the air, staring at the screen to take pictures as the sun rises. If you stand a bit back from the baray, you can get some space and just enjoy the beautiful sunrise. The busiest times at Angkor Wat are sunrise & sunset, with the quietest times around lunchtime. Entry: Angkor Archaeological Pass required, see info section for more details. Open: 5:00am - 6:00pm.