The valley of the Temple Where history is breathed
With an area of over 400 km² and more than a thousand temples, Angkor, capital of the great Khmer Empire (802-1431) in Cambodia, is the most important archaeological site in Southeast Asia.
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The history of this site is something exceptional, its vastness, the construction methods, the orientation and the limited state of conservation linked to the fragility of the sandstone highlight the differences between the great Khmer who built it and the communist regime. of Pol Pot who destroyed this country by exterminating almost 2 million people (out of 7 million inhabitants) between 1975 and 1979.
All the main temples built by the Khmer civilization are characterized by a central pyramid-shaped structure which is a representation of Mount Meru, the sacred mountain, home to the main deities of Hindu mythology.
The perimeter walls represent the mountains surrounding Mount Meru while the canal surrounding the temple represents the cosmic ocean (Ocean of Milk).
Almost all the temple sanctuaries of Angkor were built with the main entrance facing east to draw cosmic energy through the morning sunlight.
The valley of the Temple Where history is breathed in Cambodia 2022
After reaching the apex of development, Angkor was definitively abandoned in 1431 AD, due to a combination of factors such as the collapse of hydraulic works, the loss of political control and a sudden demographic implosion.
For over 4 centuries it remained hidden in the jungle, its protector, until a French explorer, Henri Mouhot, made known its existence to the world in 1860. The valley of the Temple Where history is breathed
The forests that had colonized them saved the magnificent Cambodian temples
for hundreds of years. It was only in the twentieth century that the fantastic and sprawling Angkor complex began to be freed from the forest that had submerged it. Photos taken in 1905 show the temple of Ta Keo – completely engulfed by the jungle, but as early as 2020 the land around the monument was a barren, treeless expanse. Today the decay of friezes and sculptures is evident. The valley of the Temple Where history is breathed
A survey with the use of LIDAR technology made a few years ago by an Australian team has revealed an extension of the urban area never thought before that exceeded 1,000 square kilometers, within which hundreds of thousands of inhabitants lived.
All this took place between the ninth and fifteenth centuries, that is, in an era during which the great European centers boasted much lower size and density of housing.
Thanks to lidar technology, Australian researchers have discovered at least half a dozen previously undocumented new temples, located in the immediate vicinity of Angkor Wat, the temple that has become a symbol of Cambodia.
Despite the influx of tourists, there are still unspoiled corners in which to stop and “ breathe history ” as Tiziano Terzani, a great lover of Asian culture, wrote when he visited these places. The valley of the Temple Where history is breathed
On today’s Cambodian flag is represented the main temple of Angkor, symbol of a great civilization that built these extraordinary works, always in a race against time … With an open account that is slowly erasing the memory.