Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s most popular attraction. The legendary temple complex is the largest religious monument in the world with an incredible history. A captivating site, we’ve pulled together a list of the top ten facts about Angkor Wat.
1. Angkor Wat was built without the aid of any machinery. The site was constructed between 802 and 1220 AD when machinery wasn’t available.
2. It took 35 years to build with the help of approximately 1,000 elephants in addition to the 300,000 labourers. A huge five million tons of sandstone was used to build the religious site which covers an area of 208 hectares.
3. It attracts two million tourists a year with limits now being put in place on the number of visitors allowed at certain times.
4. Cambodia is incredibly proud of Angkor Wat and an image of it is included on the country’s flag. Cambodia and Afghanistan are the only two countries who display their national monument on their flag. Illustrations of Angkor Wat also appear on denominations of the riel, the Cambodian currency.
5. The aptly named Angkor Wat translates as ‘a city of temples’. Angkor means ‘city’ or ‘capital city’ in Khmer, the Cambodian language, and Wat translates as ‘temple grounds’.
6. Paramount Pictures paid $10,000 a day to film in the temple Ta Prohm for the 2001 film ‘‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’. It was after filming in Cambodia that Angelina Jolie made the decision to adopt her Cambodian son Maddox.
7. Originally built for the Hindu religion, Angkor Wat became Buddhist in the late 13th century. The temple is still used for worship today.
8. After 1432 the city of Angkor was forgotten for a few centuries with passing Buddhist monks occasionally stumbling upon the ruins yet not understandings its origins. French explorer Henri Mouhot discovered Angkor Wat in 1860. Dying of fever in Laos a year later, people learnt about the temples in his writings published posthumously.
9. Angkor Wat went through years of looting and many statues were decapitated for sales to private collectors. It became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, which encouraged an international effort to prevent further damage.
10. Angkor Wat faces the west which is unusual when compared to similar temples in the region, which commonly are directed towards the east. As the west is associated with death it’s believed the site was built for funerals or used as a tomb. Nowadays, the location means it faces towards sunset, a popular time to visit.