Since Angkor Wat is really the name that tourists use to refer to the whole temple complex around Siem Reap, it makes the most sense to start with photos from there. It was also our first temple to visit.
Angkor Wat itself has become a national symbol of Cambodia. It appears on its national flag and draws far more visitors – both national and international - than any other place in the country. It is a source of great national pride and has helped the nation to have better relations (and funding) from other nations as they help to restore and maintain the temple.
About 100 years after it was finished, the religion of the region changed to Buddhism and the temple became a Buddhist Wat which it is still used actively as today. During the 20th century a lot of restoration was done and the vines and moss that had overtaken the walls was scrubbed off. The acid used damaged many of the bas relief style carvings but many more are still clearly visible and beautiful. Some tell the story of two kings who struggled for power. Others tell other stories the guide told me but I can’t remember. Oops. Pretty pictures of the carvings though, right?
The entryway is was once “protected” by a stone Naga – or seven headed cobra – that they believe was a deity in snake form that served to protect the temple. That's the railing you see below... the body of the snake. Interesting. Sure.
Here is the head, restored:
Hope I don’t come across a real seven headed cobra. Or any cobra. Ever.
And that’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about Angkor Wat. Come visit us and we will definitely take you to see it! Here are more photos:
To be honest... this was my least favorite one to photograph, though I loved it very much! I can’t wait to show you more!