BayonConstructed : Late 12 th century
Style : Bayon
King : Jayavarman VII ★ 1181 - 1218 ★
Detail : Only the gallery circumference 1,200m total height 43m 54 towers.
Location : Center of Angkor Thom, 1500m in the north of the Southern Gate.
Comment : In the heart of Angkor Thom lies the beautiful Bayon temple. Bayon was built about a century after Angkor Wat. Bayon is unlike most of the other temples; no walls surround the terrain, and the style is Buddhist. The more than 200 large faces carved on the 54 towers are believed to depict the god Loki, or Avalokitesvara, or the Buddha King, or a mixture of the portrait of the Buddha and the King Jayavarman VII, but opinions differ. For many architectural and symbolic details a fitting explanation still has to be found. There are also some significant changes in style which leads archeologists to believe that the Bayon was built over a long period of time. The third level with the towers was changed later; the central part may have resembled the Indian temple mount Meru in an earlier stage, similar to temples like Angkor Wat.
Visit the Bayon in the early morning. The sight of the rising sun slowly revealing the many faces with their eerie smile is a sight not to be missed. Come back during the afternoon to have a look at the galleries with their many bas-reliefs depicting scenes of everyday life as well as great battles and military processions. Some of the reliefs were re-carved when the temple later became Hindu. View the reliefs from left to right, as opposed to Angkor Wat.
Before becoming the temple of state of Jayavarman VII, Bayon had been devastated by Chams, which partly explains this architectural confusion which makes of it also its charm! Bas-reliefs of the lower levels, and the sight on the stone heads of the higher level are among most interesting and more impressive things to be seen in Angkor! The reconditioning of the unit of the temple was a colossal work, the more so as certain stones were completely hidden in a very dense vegetation which asked for large work of releases until the anastylose of the towers and the central solid mass in the Forties.