Thursday, April 9, 2009

Siem Reap, Cambodia: The History

Siem Reap is a small colonial town just north of Southeast Asia’s largest lake, Tonle Sap. The town itself is charming and delightful to explore, and offers some lovely examples of French colonial architecture though modern developments, mostly in the form of hotels.

It has been a relatively slow demise of the Khmer Rouge, but now that the town is safe again, visitors have used it as a base for visits to Angkor Wat.

Ruins of Angkor

A Bit of History...

From the 9th to the 14th centuries, as Europe was still struggling out of the Dark Ages, the Cambodian Empire of Angkor encompassed most of present-day Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

Reliefs in Angkor

The heart of this empire during its peak in the 12th century was the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (near present day Siem Reap), the site of the world’s largest temple complexes that was only rediscovered in 1861, overgrown by jungle.

Overgrown trees of Angkor

This spectacular city was built over 30 years under the reign of Suryavarman II (1113-1150). The whole area covers 400 sqare kilometers and is brimming with the finest examples of Khmer art and architecture. Within the Angkor Wat compound alone, are over 100 stone monuments and temple edifices, each of which contains countless statues, sculptures and bas reliefs that have weathered extremely well over the last 800 years.

Stone lion statue

To see the whole thing can take several days, as you get delightfully lost in its labyrinthine corridors. The most important temples to visit in the area are Angkor Wat – especially at sunrise and sunset; Angkor Thom, the remains of the capital; Ta Prohm, a palace overgrown by jungle; and Preah Khan, which is also overgrown and in the process of restoration.


I spent much time exploring and lost, walking along winding paths, confused by aware. All the while I was lost, I was not scared, but was enveloped in the moment and appreciating my surroundings. I allowed myself to see things that not every traveler would, and to venture off the beaten path.

Relief in Angkor

Take your time. Explore. Get lost. And find yourself. A visit to this city would never be regretted. Enjoy!

A little lost...

and loving life!


Juman61 said...

Beautiful pics -your writing pulls me right into the place you're writing about-awesome!

Romantic bed and breakfasts said...

This is really a very beautiful, ancient, and primitive and a very historical destination with all the beautiful and sacred tombs, shrines are all very historical and memorable.

Adrianne Molin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adrianne Molin said...

Hi! Your post about Siem Reap, Cambodia is historical huh. You posted beautiful pictures as usual. I'm looking forward on you posting more articles and interesting pictures like this one.

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