The earliest elements of this small brick and sandstone temple date from the pre-Angkorian 8th century. Scholars believe that the inscriptions indicate that the temple is dedicated to the Hindu 'god of the depths'. This is the earliest known example of the architectural design of the 'temple-mountain', which was to become the primary design for many of the Angkorian period temples including Angkor Wat. The temple is in a very poor condition.
Angkor Thom ("Great City") was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. It was established in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. The walled and moated royal city covers an area of 9 km², within which are located several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. At the center of the city is Jayavarman's state temple, the Bayon, with the other major sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north.
Angkor Thom was established as the capital of Jayavarman VII's empire, and was the center of his massive building program. One inscription found in the city refers to Jayavarman as the groom and the city as his bride.
Angkor Thom is accessible through 5 gates, one for each cardinal point, and the victory gate leading to the Royal Palace area.
Angkor Wat ("City of Temples"), the largest religious monument in the world, is a masterpiece of ancient architecture. The temple was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaivism tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious center since its foundation. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.
Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple mountain and the later galleried temple. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometers long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. The three-tiered pyramid is crowned by five lotus-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture and its extensive bas-reliefs.
The Bakong temple is located in Hariharalaya (today Rolous Group), the first Angkorian capital. The site measures 900 x 700 metres, and consists of three concentric enclosures separated by two moats, the main axis going from east to west. The outer enclosure has neither a wall nor gopuras and its boundary is the outer moat, today only partially visible. The temple is the first grand scale temple-mountain of sandstone constructed and it served as the official state temple of King Indravarman I.
The name Baksei Chamkrong means "The Bird Who Shelters Under Its Wings" and comes from a legend. In it, the king tried to flee Angkor during a siege and then a huge bird landed and sheltered him under its wings. The temple is a towering 12-meter tall brick and laterite step-pyramid. The small Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and used to hold a golden image of him. The temple can be seen on the left side when entering Angkor Thom at the southern gate. It was dedicated to Yasovarman by his son, King Harshavarman I.
Banteay Kdei meaning "A Citadel of Chambers", is a Buddhist temple and functioned as a Buddhist monastery. Built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries AD during the reign of Jayavarman VII, it is in the Bayon architectural style, similar in plan to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, but less complex and smaller.
Banteay Prei Temple is a small, hardly visited temple located a little further down the path from Prasat Prei. In architectural style, it is similar with Ta Som and some of the carvings are in good condition. In size, it has a lot in common with Banteay Srei, with oddly small windows and doors. The temple sees hardly any tourists which makes it a very calm resting place.
Banteay Samre, named after the Samré, an ancient tribe of Indochina, was build under Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II in the early 12th century. It is a Hindu temple and was constructed around the same time as Angkor Wat. Recently the temple underwent an extensive restoration by archeologists and many of the carvings are in excellent condition.
Banteay Srey, the "citadel of the women" is a 10th-century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Located 38 km north of Siem Reap, the temple was relatively late discovered by French archeologists in 1914. Banteay Srei is built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable today. The buildings themselves are miniature in scale, unusually so when measured by the standards of Angkorian construction. These factors have made the temple extremely popular with tourists, and have led to its being widely praised as a "precious gem", or the "jewel of Khmer art".
Baphuon is located in Angkor Thom, northwest of the Bayon. Built in the mid-11th century, it is a three-tiered temple mountain built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is the archetype of the Baphuon style. The temple adjoins the southern enclosure of the royal palace and measures 120 meters east-west by 100 meters north-south at its base and stands 34 meters tall without its tower, which would have made it roughly 50 meters tall. In the late 15th century, the Baphuon was converted to a Buddhist temple. A 9 meter tall by 70 meter long statue of a reclining Buddha was built on the west side's second level, which probably required the demolition of the 8 meter tower above, thus explaining its current absence. The temple was built on land filled with sand, and due to its immense size the site was unstable throughout its history. By the 20th century, much of the temple had largely collapsed, and restoration efforts have since proven problematic: a first effort begun in 1960 was interrupted by the coming to power of the Khmer Rouge, and records of the positions of the stones were lost. A second attempt started in 1995 by a team of French-led archeologists. In April 2011, after 51 years, the archaeologists finished the restoration of the temple. King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia and Prime Minister Francois Fillon of France were among those who first toured the renovated temple during the inauguration ceremony on July 3, 2011.
A baray is a man-made water reservoir and a common element of the architectural style of the Khmer Empire. The largest are the East Baray and West Baray in the Angkor area, each rectangular in shape, oriented east-west and measuring up to 8 km by 2 km. Historians are divided on the meaning and functions of barays. Some believe that they were primarily spiritual in purpose, symbolizing the seas surrounding Mount Meru, font of the Hindu cosmos. Others have theorized that they held water for irrigation of fields.
Bat Chum is a small temple built by Kavindrarimathana, a learned Buddhist minister of Khmer king Rajendravarman, at the middle of the 10th century. It consists of three inline brick towers standing on the same platform, surrounded by an enclosure and a moat. On the door jambs there are Buddhist inscriptions that mention Kavindrarimathana, the "architect" who built Srah Srang, East Mebon and maybe planned the temple-mountain of Pre Rup. In every tower there is a different inscription signed by three different persons. The last verse of all three names equally the elephants as "dyke breakers", like an ancient 'keep off the grass' sign to the local elephant handlers.
Bayon was built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, and is stands at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom. The Bayon's most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces, oriented toward the cardinal points, on the 37 towers. Recent computer models of the faces indicate that they represent a combination of Buddha and Jayavarman VII. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes.
Beng Mealea, meaning "lotus pond" is located 40 km east of the main group of Angkor, at the crossroads of the ancient royal highways to Preah Khan Kompong Svay and Peah Vihear. It was built as a Hindu temple, but there are some carvings depicting Buddhist motifs. Its primary material is sandstone and it is largely unrestored, with trees and thick brush thriving amidst its towers and courtyards and many of its stones lying in great heaps. The history of the temple is unknown and it can be dated only by its architectural style, identical to Angkor Wat, so scholars assumed it was built during the reign of king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as a prototype for Angkor Wat.