Constructed: Early – Mid 12th century C.E.
King/Patron: Suryavarman II
Style: Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat which literally means ‘City Temple’ is a Hindu temple complex built to replicate the heavens on earth. Constructed for King Suryavarman II in the early twelfth century, it is the best-preserved temple and is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation; first Hindu, dedicated to Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. This magnificent temple combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture; the temple mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early South Indian Hindu architecture. Constructed within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 miles) long with three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next, it is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology.
At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west and this has scholars divided as to its significance. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture. The extensive bas-reliefs and the numerous guardian spirits adorning its walls serve as evidence of the strong Khmer religious beliefs.