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All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.

Day one - page three
(relief in Banteay Srey)

Towards Angkor Vat

Angkor Vat is the most celebrated monument of Cambodia, the symbol of the country's glorious past (it appears on the national flag). It is the obvious "must see" for every tourist and the site is always crowded.

Towards Angkor Vat

Angkor Vat was built in 1130-50 by King Suryavarman II. It was dedicated to Vishnu; unlike most temples it faces west rather than east; this is most likely due to a very practical reason: the city was located to its west. It is surrounded by a very large moat or rather a water reservoir which adds to the beauty of the site.

The outer enclosure

The gopura (entrance pavilion) is flanked by two other towers and by a very long portico. Behind it one can see the main structure of Angkor Vat with five towers arranged according to a scheme typical of Angkor (similar to the dots of number five on dice).

A faithful warden and the main gopura

Angkor Vat

A model of Angkor Vat in the Royal Palace of Bangkok

In the XIXth century the region of Angkor belonged to Thailand and the kings of that country built a model of the main temple in the precinct of their Bangkok palace. It helps in understanding the overall design of Angkor Vat.

The major building

One key feature of Angkor in general is the vertical thrust of its buildings: this aspect was no doubt due to religious and artistic motives: however also the fact that Khmer architects did not make use of the arch had some influence in their design.
Openings were closed by adding layers of stones on either side of them, with each successive layer projecting more from the wall: this construction technique (called corbel arch) did not allow the construction of large vaults and halls and it made the buildings particularly prone to collapse.

Decorated walls and windows

The decoration of Angkor Vat is extremely elaborate and when the walls were not covered by bas-reliefs, they were given the appearance of a silk tapestry; blind windows closed with small columns made the overall design of the buildings more lively.

A very fine woman

The bas-reliefs of Angkor Vat are regarded as the highest point reached by Khmer artists.

A well preserved "library"

The two "libraries" of Angkor Vat have a design which is somewhat similar to patterns developed in ancient Greece with pronaoi (porticoes at the front of temples) and a more balanced ratio between height and width.

One of the porticoes

The quadrangular porticoes surrounding the five towers were decorated with narrative bas-reliefs depicting military processions and the Hindu myth of Mount Meru.

Chariots and warriors

A sort of war dance

A war elephant

Angkor in 3 Days

Day One - Page OneIntroduction - Angkor Thom (Southern Gate and Terraces)
Day One - Page TwoAngkor Thom (Temples)
Day One - Page ThreeAngkor Vat
Day Two - Page OnePrah Khan - Ta Som
Day Two - Page TwoBanteay Srey
Day Two - Page ThreeEast Mebon - Pre Rup
Day Three - Page OneBaksei Chamkrong - Ta Prohm
Day Three - Page TwoPrasat Kravan - Phnom Bakheng
Day Three - Page ThreeAn excursion to Tonle Sap

SEE THESE OTHER EXHIBITIONS (for a full list see my
detailed list).