Arguably the most famous monument in Cambodia, Angkor Wat attracts millions of tourists every year. The temple which is located near Siem Reap is an architectural marvel, but apart from its attractive façade, it has quite a few other facts which you might not know.
Here are eight things you didn’t know about Angkor Wat.
It originally had a different name.
This temple wasn’t always known as Angkor Wat. In fact, before the sixteenth century, it was called Pisnulok. This was the official title of the king who was responsible for the temple being constructed, King Suryavarman II.
It is one of the only two monuments which are represented on a country’s national flag.
Angkor Wat is easily Cambodia’s most well-known religious structure and attracts millions of visitors each year.
Thanks to this immense fame as well as an intrinsic pride which Cambodians hold about their heritage, Angkor Wat is proudly featured on the national flag of Cambodia.
The only other nation to do something similar, by placing a nationally significant monument on their flag, is Afghanistan.
If this isn’t enough, Cambodia also has a beer named after the famous monument!
Unlike most Cambodian temples, which were dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva, Angkor Wat was dedicated to Vishnu.
King Suryavarman II did not predominantly worship Shiva. Instead, he was a devotee of Vishnu. Thus, when he built the temple complex, he decided to break with tradition and dedicate Angkor Wat to Vishnu instead.
Moreover, Angkor Wat faces west instead of the usual east.
At one point in history, the temple was the largest city on the planet.
In the 12th century, Angkor Wat was the most densely populated city on earth. It is estimated that it had a population of almost a million people.
If you can’t travel all the way to Cambodia, don’t worry- technology has you covered.
Since the year 2013, it is possible to pay a visit to the temple without leaving your home.
Thanks to Google Street View, you can see the magnificence of the entire temple complex right from the comfort of your home. All you need is a smart phone and a decent internet connection.
It is the largest religious monument in the entire world.
The entire area where the monument has been built measures 154 sq. meters. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When it was built, it was the largest religious monument in the world and nearly a thousand years later, it still holds that title.
It is one of the most advanced structures in the world.
Thanks to the precision in the construction of Angkor Wat, there are some features that make this temple stand out.
Some of these include cooled corridors which could prevent excessive heating as well as a network made up of water ways and reservoirs.
These formed an irrigation system which ensured that there were two rice harvests a year instead of one. It also features richly carved corridors, bas reliefs, and a moat.
The architecture is reminiscent of Mount Meru, the home of the Hindu Gods.
There is a central tower which is surrounded by 4 other towers. These four towers represent Mount Meru’s peaks. This also underlines the Hindu connection of the temple.
You can also catch the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets here. The beautiful structure reflected off a lake in the morning sun looks breath-taking. Now, you too know the secrets of Angkor Wat!
When you come to stay at the Grand Bayon Siem Reap Hotel, you can take one of our many tours of Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples. Our front desk team will be more than happy to help you to make the most of your visit to Angkor and can help to arrange tours, transport and guides.