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Angkor Thom, Angkor Cambodia

  • 'Angkor Thom' means 'great city'. It was the great city of the Khmer people and the Khmer Empire , first constructed in late 12th C. It is constructed partly on what was previously the city of Yasodharapura. Levee banks from this prior period are visible crossing through the middle of the city on a west east axis.
  • The fortification walls and the surrounding moat are square with four sides of 3 kilometers in length. The significant tourist sites around the ancient City are, the moat, the Walls, the Five Gates (the South Gate, The Victory Gate and Gate of the Dead on the east side, the North Gate and the West Gate), the causeways and their statues.
  • Some historians suggest 1 million people once lived here before it  was sacked by the Siamese armies in 1431. Then the houses were made of wood and straw (as explained by Chinese visitors in their writings of the time).
  • What we see today inside are the ruins of those monuments made of laterite and or sand stone. These include, The Bayon , the Royal Palace , the Khleang (North & South), Prasat Suor Prat, the Royal Elephant and Leper King Terraces, the pools, the internal walls, the Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Preah Palilay, Tep Pranam and lesser ruins.

The City Walls At Angkor Thom

  • In 1177 the invading Chams from the Kingdom of Champa were only challenged by a wooden wall. So Jayavarman constructed the wall which now remains today with 1 meter square blocks of laterite stacked 8 meters high on the external and inner walls and reinforced with earth inside and with a sandstone topping which also acts as a road.
  • Unlike usual fortifications of the period there are no turrets or other usual structures for war. Perhaps the wall is more symbolic as are the other walls in the region surrounding other Temples. The walls are surrounded by a 100 meters wide moat, the water for which flows in from the northeast corner and is discharged at the southwest corner.
  • On the four corners of these walls are small temples called Prasat Chung.In each were found inscribed stele (stone slabs with inscriptions written on them) confirming the work of JayavaramVII and stating in Khmer the proposition that the whole Angkor Thom structure of the Bayon and the moats and walls was a comparison to the mountains and the oceans surrounding the earth in true Hindu fashion.
  • The four Prasat Chrung are decorated with devatas set in niches and with balustered false windows partially masked by blinds. To the east is a square planned shelter for the stele, open to four sides and vaulted with a cloistered arch. The whole arrangement is enclosed by a wall in which is a single opening.

The laterite wall fortification at Angkor Thom

The 5 Gates of Angkor; The South Gate, The North Gate,The West Gate and two East Gates, the Victory Gate and the Gate of the Dead.

  • Five gateways are all built in a similar design. The design is best considered by the photographs on this site. Four gates are on The Bayon axis and the Victory Gate to the East is in line to the center of The Royal Terraces and The Royal Palace some 1.5 kilometers away. 
  • The five gates are accessed by individual causeways across the moat. The South Gate is 30 meters long and 5 meters wide. Originally there were 7 meters high wooden doors on both the front and rear to each gateway thus trapping inside the tower any one who broke through any one of the gates. The gate ways are designed for elephants to pass through in single file.

The North Gate at Angkor Thom