This temple was built during the first half of the 12th century
by King Suryavarman II in the Southeast quadrant of the old Angkor
city of Suryavarman I. It was dedicated to Vishnu, and perhaps because
it was also a funerary temple, the main door opens to the West.
It has four enclosure galleries, the third of which, together with
the two Western corner pavilions, are decorated with the famous
It is the most magnificent example of Khmer classical architecture
and the largest religious monument in the world. It was constructed,
as a matter of practical necessity, from the central sanctuary outward
and downward, and perhaps the western entrances received early attention.
The carving of the relief panels of the galleries of the third enclosure
was probably begun near the end of the king's reign, possibly as
late as 1140, and some reliefs were left unfinished in various details
others were not even started, In fact, the reliefs of the north-eastern
quadrant were completed in the 16th century, probably on the basis
of pre-existing sketches. They lack the creativity of their earlier
counterparts, and are crudely carved. The larger figures, particularly
those of Vishnu and Garuda, were better sculpted than the smaller,
which were more summarily executed as 'fillers' for the blank spaces.