Angkor Wat and Angkor Wat is the largest temple of monumental complex of Angkor in Cambodia. It was built by Suryavarman II at the beginning of the twelfth century as a temple and its state capital. Best preserved temple of Angkor, it is the only one to have remained an important religious center since its founding, first Hindu dedicated to Vishnu and Buddhist. The temple is a symbol of the classical style of architecture Khmer. It has become the symbol of Cambodia, on its national flag, and is the main tourist destination in the country.
Angkor Wat combines two bases architecture Khmer temples for the next mountain temple and the side galleries at the temple. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the gods in Hindu mythology. Within a moat and an outer wall of 3.6 km in length are three rectangular galleries, each built one above the other. At the center of the temple towers stand in rows. Unlike most temples of Angkor, Angkor Wat is oriented towards the west, probably because it is oriented Vishnu.
The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of its architecture and its many carved bas-reliefs that decorate its walls. Its beauty and size are such that many consider it the eighth wonder of the world.
"Angkor" is a dialectal form of nokor word, which comes from the Sanskrit nāgara, "royal residence" and vat or wat means "temple" in Khmer. "We can translate Angkor Wat" by the city which is a temple. This designation "Angkor Wat" is used since the sixteenth century.
Before this period, the temple was apparently called "Preah Pisnulok", in reference to the posthumous title of its founder Suryavarman II.
Angkor Wat is located 5.5 km north of the town of Siem Reap and south-east of the ancient capital which focused on the Baphûon.
The temple of Angkor Wat is in an area of Cambodia where there is a large group of ancient buildings. It is the most south of the main sites of Angkor.
Angkor Wat was built in the first half of the twelfth century by King Suryavarman II, whose reign was from 1113 to 1150. As Baphûon was dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu honoured Suryavarman II, he decided to build a new temple south of the city. This could explain that the entry of Angkor Wat is oriented toward the west - toward Vishnu - Unlike other Khmer temples.
The work of construction seems to have ended when the king's death, leaving some of the bas-reliefs decorative unfinished. In 1177, Angkor was sacked by the Chams, the traditional enemies of the Khmer. Thereafter, the empire was restored by a new king, Jayavarman VII, which has established a new capital, Angkor Thom, and a temple of State, Bayon, a few kilometres further north.
In the fourteenth century or fifteenth century, the temple was "diverted" to the worship of Buddha (Buddhism theravâda) with a significant reshuffle of the central shrine. Today, the temple is visited daily by Buddhist monks.
Among the temples of Angkor, Angkor Wat was one of the best preserved temples because, although it is somewhat overlooked after the sixteenth century, it has never been completely abandoned. Its preservation is due in part to the fact that its moat provided protection against the development of the jungle on the site.
One of the first Western visitors to the temple was António da Madalena, a monk Portuguese went to the site in 1586 and declared that the temple "is so extraordinary construction it is not possible to describe it on paper, especially since it is not like other places in the world. He towers, decorations and all the refinements that human ingenuity can devise. " However, the temple has been popularized in the West as in the mid-nineteenth century through the publication of the travel notes of the french explorer Henri Mouhot. He also wrote: "One of these temples - a rival that of Solomon and erected by some former Michelangelo - could take a place of honor next to our most beautiful buildings. It's great that all that we have left for Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast with the state of barbarism in which the country was plunged today."
Mouhot, like other Western visitors at the outset, was unable to believe that the Khmer could have built the temple, and to falsely data at roughly the same time as ancient Rome. The true story of Angkor Wat has been collected from only stylistic and epigraphic data accumulated in the restoration work carried out on the entire site of Angkor.
Angkor Wat has required considerable efforts for the restoration of the twentieth century, and primarily by the removal of the accumulated land and vegetation. The work was interrupted by civil war and the Khmer Rouge took control of the country during the years 1970 and 1980, but relatively little damage was done during that period other than theft and destruction of most statues dating from the post-angkoriennes eras.
The temple has become the symbol of Cambodia and is a source of great national pride. Since approximately 1863, Angkor Wat is an integral part of the flag of Cambodia and the only building to appear on a national flag.
Since 1992, the whole Angkor was placed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO and even considered "at risk" until 2004. In 2008, it was the only site cambodian distinguished in this way by UNESCO.
In January 2003, riots broke out in Phnom Penh when a false rumor that a Thai actress claimed a soap opera qu'Angkor Vatican had said belonged to Thailand.
The complex occupies a total area of about 1500 metres 1300 metres.
The decoration Khmer abundant but harmonious, is mainly made up of representations of gods, men and animals, who meet every flat surface. The fighting and episodes legends are common. The floral decorations are reserved for curbs, moldings and marquees.
The main materials used are of different colours sandstone and laterite. The stone was cut into large blocks assembled with great accuracy without using cement, probably by running on the spot.
The galleries External
The moat and three galleries surround the central shrine. Since western complex, a pavement 200 metres long can cross the moat and leads to a large terrace prior to the magnificent gopura, which marks the main entrance to the central building.
The first gallery is made up of square pillars to the outside and a black wall inwards. The ceiling between the pillars is decorated with rosettes in lotus. The outside wall is decorated with windows columns, apsaras (celestial nymphs), found on all the galleries, and male figures who dance on animals caracolants.
Beginning in the first gallery, an avenue decorated with long naga 350 meters leads to the second chamber through a park. On both sides of the aisle, we encounter first two buildings of unknown utility (but is commonly called "libraries"), then two small basins.
We arrive at the second gallery by an elevated platform flanked by lions on both sides of a stairwell. The inside wall of the second gallery is decorated with a bas-relief narrative along its entire length. On the western wall are represented scenes from the epic Mahabharata.
The third forum
The third gallery delineates an area of 150 metres by 200 metres. It enters through a terrace in a cross.
This space is divided into three levels, connected by many outside staircases. These levels are decreasing in size. Each level consists of a terrace surrounded by a gallery. The higher the shrine, which is topped at its centre of a large pyramid-shaped tower. Towers also overcome the four corners of the terraces of the two upper floors. The gallery's foreign central sanctuary, 800 metres long, is decorated with bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Indian epics or history of Angkor.
Three galleries whose vaults are supported by columns of the three leading western gates of the third gallery on the second level. They are connected by a horizontal gallery, which is four square cups. The gallery is nicknamed the south gallery of Thousand Buddhas, since the Khmer had to leave practice of the Buddha statues. Most of these were destroyed during the civil war. From both sides of these galleries are two libraries.
On reaching the second level through a portico through another rectangular enclosure. There is a paved surface, where there are still two libraries. These courses may originally have been flooded, in order to represent the ocean surrounding the mythical Mount Meru. It is crossed by a short driveway supported by pillars and leading to the third level.
The central shrine
It reached the central shrine by twelve very steep stairs that represent the difficulty of reaching the realm of the gods.
At the top of these stairs is a platform paved with square divided into four classes by two corridors to be elevated crossing at right angles. Another short elevated corridor along the outer edge of the platform, surrounding the entire level. At each corner of this corridor is a tower and there is a fifth in the middle of the platform. These five towers form the familiar silhouette of Angkor Wat.
The square base of the central tower contains a small shrine on each side, behind which lies the central shrine. These shrines are connected by walking on roofs which represented the body of a snake ending with the heads of lions or garudas. The lintels and pediments carved adorn the entrances to galleries and shrines.
Since 1990, Angkor Wat has seen a resumption of significant conservation efforts and a massive increase in tourism. The temple is part of Angkor, a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since 1992. The organization has provided funding and encouraged the government cambodian to protect the site. "The German Apsara Conservation Project" (GACP) works to protect the devatas damage and other bas-reliefs that decorate the temple. The purpose of the survey revealed that nearly 20% of devatas were in very poor condition, mainly due to natural erosion and deterioration of the stone, but also because of efforts to restore earlier. Other work involves repairing sections collapsed and the prevention of further collapses: the western façade of the upper deck, for instance, has been supported by scaffolding since 2002 and, in 2005, a Japanese team has completed Restoration of the library north of the outer wall.
The central shrine was originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, but his gold statue has been removed and there is today in every shrine of the Buddha statues.
Angkor Wat has become a major tourist destination. The attendance figures for the temple are not published, but in 2004, the country received just over one million arrivals from the international person  and 57% of them had planned to visit the temple according to the Ministry of Tourism.
The influx of tourists has so far caused relatively little damage, with some graffiti. Some protective measures have been put in place to protect the bas-reliefs and soil. Tourism has also provided additional funds for maintenance, approximately 28% of revenue tickets throughout the Angkor is spent on temples, although most of the work is done by teams sponsored by their government respective rather than by the authorities cambodian.
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