The South Gate of Angkor Thom
Once you have had your fill at Angkor Wat you could move on to Angkor Thom only about a mile away. If you are approaching from the general Angkor Wat direction you will enter by the South Gate which is one of four gates into this walled city. Angkor Thom means ‘great city’ as this was indeed a magnificent metropolis back in the twelfth century and was the last capital city of the Khmer Empire spanning nearly six square miles. The road leading through the gate is lined with an incredible selection of stone figures. On the left side are 54 figures of gods and on the right 54 figures of demons.
There has been a good job of restoration done on the faces of the stone figures and it is very clear to see which ones are new they will get better with a bit of weathering over the years to come. The restoration has been done well with clear evidence of great skill in the stone carving.
The gate itself has faces carved into the stone at the top all the way round and three headed elephants to guard the bottom. If you close your eyes its not difficult to imagine this as a busy entrance to a magnificent city with people and animals coming and going from all directions.
Standing perfectly at the centre of Angkor Thom is the Bayon which was the state temple back in the twelfth century when this city was thriving. It is quite a quirky temple with fifty four gothic towers with huge smiling faces carved into the stone. There is also a huge area of bas-reliefs (figures carved into the stone to such a degree that they almost could be sculptures in their own right).