10 Interesting Facts About the Angkor Wat Complex
No visit to Southeast Asia is complete without seeing the ancient beauty of the world’s famous Angkor Wat temple. Voted as the number one destination in Asia and second in the world, no surprise that this religious site draws more than two million tourists every year.
As Lonely Planet described it in their guidebook for Cambodia, “Angkor is one of the world’s foremost ancient sites, with the epic proportions of the Great Wall of China, the detail and intricacy of the Taj Mahal and the symbolism and symmetry of the pyramids, all rolled into one.” Are you already excited to know more about this 7th Wonder of the world? I have listed down 10 interesting facts about the Angkor Wat Complex that will help you optimize your trip to Angkor. Sit back, relax and travel back in time!
Fact #1 Angkor Wat is the primary reason why tourists flock to Cambodia
According to statistics, 50% of international tourists head to Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat. This massive complex welcomes more than two million foreign visitors each year making it one of the most visited tourist sites in the world.
Fact #2 It is originally a Hindu temple
Built by Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat was dedicated to Vishnu. However, in the 14th century, the temple was converted into a Buddhist shrine. In fact, many statues of Buddha can still be found all over the place.
Fact #3 The complex is extremely huge
The Angkor Wat Complex spreads over 400 sq km of North of Cambodia. If you think that one day is enough to fully discover and wander around all the temples of Angkor, you might think again. Temples are scattered all over the complex at distant places – That’s more than 1,000 temples in a 400-square-meter area!
Fact #4 How it was built
Angkor Wat Temple was built without using any machines only pure labor. There were estimated 300,000 laborers, 6,000 numbers of elephants, 5 million tons of sand stones were used to build this massive temple and it took around 37 years to complete the construction – surprising!
Fact #5 The largest religious monument in the world
Constructed in the early 12th century (between 1113 and 1150) Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world.
Fact #6 Angkor Wat is featured in Cambodian Flag
Cambodians are really proud of their ancient monument. In fact, in 1850 it was added to Cambodian flag. Cambodia and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world that feature their national monument in their flag. Some images of the Angkor Wat also appear on many denominations of the Riel banknote.
Fact #7 Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Built in the 12th century, this 1,000 year old historic site became a UNESCO listed World Heritage site in 1992.
Fact #8 Angkor Wat translates to “City of Temples” or simply “City Temple”
Fact #9 The Angkor Wat Temple faces the west
Unlike other temples in the region that are aligned facing to the east, this temple was aligned to the west, a direction typically associated with death in Hindu culture.
Fact #10 No structure should be higher than the Angkor Wat Temple
It is surprising that the historic town of Siem Reap, the town where Angkor Wat Temple is situated which is one of the most visited places in the world has no tall buildings at all. Local people say that due to their much respect and love for the temple, buildings/structures higher than the Angkor Wat Temple are not permitted.