Angkor Thom (the Great City) founded by King Jayarvarman VII. In 12th century it was the largest city in the world with over one million inhabitants until the King moved to Phnom Penh in the 1400’s. The Bayon (temple) of the 12th and 13th centuries, dedicated to Buddhism and composed of 54 gigantic towers featuring 216 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara, was built in the center of the city. The city is moated and has five entrances (N,S,E,W and the Victory gate which led directly to the palace area).
We also visited the Elephant Terrace, which was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king‟s grand audience hall; and the raised Leper King Terrace, built in the 12th century and which features many beautifully sculptured Apsaras.
The entire complex was deserted and fell to ruin, but through sponsorship of various countries, work is on-going to restore some of the structures. The giant old mahogany, gum, banyan and other trees provide a very pleasing and parklike ambience – as well as creating shade in the heat of the day. It’s amazing that these sandstone carvings and sculptures have held up as well as they have given they have no protection from the elements.