Angkor Wat is the crown jewel of the GIGANTIC, and I mean HUGE, Angkor temple complex, which at its peak was occupied by 1.4 million people. It is the largest religious structure in the world. The main temple is topped by five magnificent towers, and surrounded by a complex of galleries containing murals of Hindu and Buddhist mythology, creation stories, and the vanquishing of the Thais.

Angkor Wat was the heart of the Khmer empire from the 9th through the 15th centuries… SIX HUNDRED YEARS OF BADASSERY. Not to mention the centuries of Indochinese artistic-cultural soupmaking beforehand. This gigantic piece of laterite and sandstone beauty was dedicated around 1150 to Vishnu, having taken about 30 years to complete.

There are A LOT of pictures below. They are presented, generally, in a procession across the moat causeway, through the first set of galleries, across the second causeway, and through the gallery complex to the main temple.

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I thought the moat was an arm of the Mekong for a moment, then I realized it’s just a gigantic Angkor earthwork. Naga balustrades frame the approach.

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Fourth enclosure gallery

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There are thousands of apsara (nymph) dancers all over the galleries with something like 39 distinct ‘hairdos’. The movements of these dancers were studied after the end of the Khmer Rouge to bring apsara dance back.
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Every surface is covered in some kind of texture
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Outside of the fourth enclosure

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This space between the walled enclosures was once populated with the wooden homes and markets of up to 400,00 people
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One of two libraries within the temple grounds

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Angkor Wat? Nah. I have Angry Birds to play…
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Looking back on the causeway towards the west entrance
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Galleries within the third enclosure
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Can’t escape David’s poses

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I thought this horse looked incredulous. ‘Whaaaaaaaat?!’
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The space between the third enclosure and the first level of the temple pyramid, complete with libraries!

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The outside of the temple pyramid from the first level
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Those stairs….

After climbing a very steep, very perilous set of stairs to get to the top of the temple, you are rewarded with kingly views across the temple compound and the surrounding jungle.

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Looking down on the first level

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Unfortunately common occurrence throughout the sights: Women dressed to the nines making their partner take nonchalant/pensive pictures of them

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I know that there are tons of murals and carvings that I did not describe or touch on here, but it would be overwhelming to catalogue and research all of them. The Angkor Wat temple, and the legacy of the civilization that it represents, are an incredible feat of human engineering. The fact that such a gigantic complex was built out of stone with only human and elephant labor is incredible.

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