Angkor Wat: 11 Astounding Facts to Discover!

Angkor Wat: 11 Astounding Facts to Discover!

Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Angkor Wat attracts millions of visitors every year who are fascinated by its majestic beauty. But behind the facade lies unexpected secrets that we will uncover for you.

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Written by Tieu Bao (Local Expert) Updated on 28-12-2023
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1. Angkor Wat: The largest religious monument on Earth

Angkor Wat spans over 400 acres/1.6 km2 and is considered the largest religious monument in the world. Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, this triggered an international effort to preserve this extraordinary complex.

angkor wat
Angkor Wat - Splendor from the horizon

2. Angkor Wat on the Cambodian Flag

Since around 1850, Angkor Wat has been depicted at the center of Cambodia's national flag, testifying to their incredible pride in this ancient monument. This pride is also reflected on many riel banknotes, the Cambodian currency.

Cambodian flag
Presence of Angkor Wat on the Cambodian flag since 1850

3. Angkor Wat means "City of Temples" in Khmer

In Khmer, the Cambodian language, Angkor means "city" or "capital", and Wat means "temple grounds". Thus, Angkor Wat translates to "City of Temples" or "Temple Town". Originally called Vrah Vishnuloka or Parama Vishnuloka in Sanskrit, it signified the sacred dwelling of the Hindu god Vishnu.

Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat - City of Temples

4. Angkor Wat embraced by both Hinduism and Buddhism

First serving as a Hindu temple exalting Vishnu, Angkor Wat progressively became a Buddhist sanctuary from the late 12th century onwards, but continues to function as a site of living worship today.

Angkor Wat at sunrise, Siem Reap
Angkor Wat at sunrise, Siem Reap

5. Angkor Wat, depiction of Mount Meru

Mount Meru, in Hindu mythology, is the sacred five-peaked mountain standing at the center of the universe. Angkor Wat is designed as its representation, where the Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva reside.

Mount Meru
Mount Meru, pivot of the Buddhist world

6. Angkor Wat associated with Death in Hinduism

Unlike most Angkor temples oriented to the east, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west, symbolizing death in Hindu culture, making this temple a funerary site according to many archaeologists.

Preah Khan temple
Tree roots on the ancient temple of Preah Khan

7. Angkor Wat bas-reliefs read counter-clockwise

Angkor Wat's stone bas-reliefs are designed to be read counter-clockwise, deviating from the conventional order. This peculiarity is seen as further evidence linking the temple to funerary rituals.

Angkor Wat bas-reliefs
Angkor Wat bas-reliefs

8. Five million tons of sandstone used to build Angkor Wat

The sandstone blocks come from the sacred Phnom Kulen mountain, about 31 miles from the site. The heaviest blocks weighed up to 3,300 pounds, making the logistics of transportation staggering.

Construction of Angkor Wat with five million tons of sandstone
Construction of Angkor Wat with five million tons of sandstone

9. The staggering statistics of Angkor Wat

According to inscriptions, its construction took around 30 years, 300,000 workers and 6,000 elephants, achieved without machines at the time.

Angkor Wat and monk
The majesty of Angkor Wat matches its associated figures

10. Walls adorned with thousands of bas-reliefs

Depicting Hindu and Buddhist deities and key figures as well as pivotal events from their mythological traditions.

Bas-reliefs in abundance on the walls of Angkor Wat
Bas-reliefs in abundance on the walls of Angkor Wat

11. Vegetal binding agent instead of mortar

Angkor Wat’s bricks were bonded by a vegetal compound, a remarkable fact explaining the resilience of the ruins to this day.

Vegetal-bonded bricks at Angkor Wat, remarkable durability

Source : odynovotours.com


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