Phimeanakas – Siem Reap, Cambodia - Atlas Obscura

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A secluded, little-known temple hidden amid the dense jungle.  


Phimeanakas was a Hindu temple constructed in the Khleang style. The name Phimeanakas actually translates to “Celestial Palace.”

Construction started at the end of the 10th-century during the reign of Rajendravarma II and was completed by Suryavarma I. It went on to become the state temple of Suryavarman I and the focal point of his capital. The structure was also used by King Jayavarman VII as his private temple and was designed in laterite, a type of clay.

Atop the pyramid was a tower that rose from a platform. At the center of the platform now sit the ruins of a small cruciform sanctuary. Along the edge of the top platform are covered galleries. These were the first vaulted galleries to be constructed in Angkor. At the corners of each of the tiers are guardian elephant statues.

At the base, the structure measures 82 feet (35 meters) long and 91 feet (28 meters) wide. A very steep stairway leads to the top. All four sides are guarded by lion statues. 

Around 200 years after its construction, the temple was swallowed up by the city temple of Angkor Thom. It now sits atmospherically hidden among the trees that subsequently swallowed the city. 

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January 7, 2021

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