Angkor Wat Temple (Part II)

Angkor Wat Temple (Part II)
Angkor Wat Temple (Part II)

The archaeological complex of Angkor represents the pinnacle of Hindu architecture and at the same time is emerging as one of the best examples of Khmer architecture found to date. To understand its conception, we must highlight how the Khmer temples –unlike most Western religious buildings- were not designed for the faithful to penetrate inside. As in ancient Greek temples, the interior space of the temple was intended for a few people with a high degree in the religious ladder and the monarch. In this sense, it seems logical to explain how this type of construction is much more developed outside than inside; in the Khmer temples and especially in Angkor, the perspective of the exterior volumes, the staggered and increasing graduation of the terraces and towers, etc., have been especially taken care of. all of them, in order to give the construction a more colossal and grandiose appearance than this splendid architectural work already had.


Angkor Wat is one of the best examples of temple-mountains designed by Khmer architecture. Its composition is based on a main temple, the prasat, which is surrounded by several quadrangular patios or terraces of descending height in which other temples smaller than the prasat are located in the corners. The set appears completed by the great lake thatsurrounds the complex, two large libraries and a quadrangular perimeter wall. Iconographically, the complex represents the Hindu universe: the lake is a representation of the seas and oceans while the architecture is Mount Meru.

The main temple of the Angkor complex is known as the Bakan, it is a temple raised on a podium that develops in three different heights joined by wide galleries supported by columns. The first enclosure is decorated by bas-reliefs dedicated to the god Vishnu, the second lacks sculptural decoration and in the third the reliefs have been dedicated to the monarch Suryaverman II who commissioned the construction of the complex.

As has already been pointed out, the Khmer temple was not a space intended to house the faithful, so the entrances to the temple are rather discreet and small compared to the rest of the complex. From the lower enclosure, three galleries give access to the second level and from there a narrow corridor allows entry to the last level where there are two perpendicular corridors that intersect to form a cross and are known by the name of Preah Poan. The space between the different levels was configured as high-rise moats that were flooded for ceremonial purposes.

Almost the entire construction is decorated with bas-reliefs of great technical quality and which, according to the studies carried out, must have been polychrome. In the decoration, architectural elements, animals or plants stand out, but above all acountless female figures, more than fifteen hundred in the whole, which seem to represent Hindu female deities.

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