The ancient capital of the great Khmer Empire, Angkor is without doubt one of the most magnificent wonders of the world and a site of immense archaeological significance. Located in dense jungle on the hot and torpid plains of northwestern Cambodia, its awe-inspiring temples transport visitors back to an enchanting and mysterious ancient world of grandeur and glory.
Often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, Angkor, the ancient capital of Cambodia, is a remarkable place. For nearly six centuries, between AD 802 and 1432, it was the political and religious heart of the Khmer Empire, an empire that extended from the South China Sea almost to the Bay of Bengal.
The Khmer Empire was founded at the beginning of the 9th century AD Jayavarman II (r.802–850), who proclaimed himself devaraja (god- king) of the land. He built a gigantic, pyramidal temple-mountain representing Mount Meru, the sacred mythical abode of the Hindu gods. This structure laid the foundations of Angkor’s architecture. In the following centuries, his successors shifted the capital from Roluos to Angkor, built magnificent temples such as Phnom Bakheng, Angkor Wat, Banteay Kdei, and Ta Prohm, as well as the bustling city of Angkor Thom. Today, the remains of the metropolis of Angkor occupy 77 sq miles (200 sq km) of northwest Cambodia, and although its wooden houses and magnificent palaces decayed centuries ago, the impressive array of stone temples still stand. Set between two barays (reservoirs), Angkor today contains around 70 temples, tombs, and other ancient ruins. Among them is the splendid Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious complex.
One of the most important archaeological sites in the world, Angkor attracts millions of visitors each year, providing a substantial boost to Cambodia’s economy. Other sites in the area include the rapidly developing town of Siem Reap. With its tree-lined boulevards and gentle pace, Siem Reap is the gateway to the temples of Angkor, which lie only 4 miles (6 km) north of town.