Destination List > Angkor Wat
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Angkor Wat, located in northwest Cambodia, is the largest religious structure in the form of a temple complex in the world by land area. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of four towers surrounding a central spire that rises to a height of 65 m (213 ft) above the ground. The temple has three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. It lies within an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2 1⁄4 miles) long and a moat more than five kilometres (three miles) long.
The temple was built at the behest of Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yaśodharapura (យសោធរបុរៈ, present-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer Empire, as the state temple for the empire. Originally constructed dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu in the early 12th century, it was converted to a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century.
Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple-mountain and the later galleried temple. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west. Scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of its architecture, extensive bas-reliefs, and statues of Buddhas and Devas that adorn its walls.
As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists in Cambodia and around the world. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's main tourist attraction. Angkor Wat played a major role in converting Cambodia into a Buddhist nation.