- Angkor Wat represents two religions
- The first known foreigner to visit Angkor Wat was Portuguese
- Angkor is much more than Angkor Wat
- Angkor Wat faces a different direction than most temples
- Angkor Wat and other temples are what’s left behind
Angkor Wat Facts – Five Things You Need to Know
Angkor is the heart of Cambodia and holds many ancient structures and mysteries. It’s also the main reason why many people visit the Kingdom of Wonder. Come and discover our ancient temples with fun and useful facts. And, spend some time in our Angkor cafe. Here are five things that you need to know about Angkor Wat.
Fact 1. Angkor Wat represents two religions
Angkor Wat is the largest religious complex in the world—yes—but what religion does it represent?
Many visitors to the Kingdom are under the impression that it is a Buddhist monument while it actually was a Hindu creation. In fact, the entire stretch of Southeast Asia is strewn with remains of Indian influence. Even the name of Bangkok’s airport, Suvarnabhumi, means “Golden Land” and might be the region named Aurea Regio in “India beyond the Ganges”.
These Angkor facts will make your trip to Southeast Asia much more interesting!
Fact 2. The first known foreigner to visit Angkor Wat was Portuguese
Many believe that a Frenchman by the name of Henri Mouhot discovered the iconic temple of Angkor Wat in the 1800’s. In fact, Angkor was never actually lost so, it didn’t need discovering.
The ancient temple has been continuously occupied since the early 15 century CE. Even after the Angkorian Empire moved to the Phnom Penh region, Angkor Wat remained inhabited and became an extremely important religious site.
What you need to know is that the first foreigner to lay eyes upon the majestic temple was a Portuguese Capuchin friar named Antonio da Madelena. Learn more about his journey and read his account in the book ‘The Civilization of Angkor’ by Charles Higham.
Fact 3. Angkor is much more than Angkor Wat
The magnet that attracts millions of tourists to the Kingdom of Wonder every year is the ancient Angkor Wat temple, but what about the hundreds of other religious temples that dot the landscape?
Many don’t realize the grandeur of the Angkor Archaeological Park with its various structures, monuments, barays, and temples. Archaeologists haven’t discovered everything yet and there should be plenty more to find hidden in the Kingdom’s jungles, hills, and plains. Are you ready to explore?
When you need a break from all that exploration, find us next to Srah Srang.
Fact 4. Angkor Wat faces a different direction than most temples
The majority of temples in Angkor face east, but for some reason, Angkor Wat faces the opposite direction (west).
Many believe that this is because Angkor Wat was built in honor of the Hindu god, Vishnu. You should know that in the legends, Vishnu sits in the ‘Ocean Milk’ and is considered the Supreme god personality in front of whom all lesser gods sit.
Fact 5: Angkor Wat and other temples are what’s left behind
What you see on the surface in Angkor is just what’s been left behind. You need to know that there’s an entire city lying beneath the surface!
Archaeologists used LIDAR technology to survey the ground in and around the Angkor Archaeological Park, including Phnom Kulen. In 2012, Jean-Baptiste Chevance and Damian Evans discovered the ancient city named Mountain of the Great Indra (Mahendraparvata). This place pre-dates the Angkor Wat temple by 350 years!
Another LIDAR scan performed in 2016 showed that the findings from 2012 were just one part of the ancient Mahendraparvata resulting in the conclusion that this was at one point, the largest city in the world! How’s that for an Angkor Wat fact?