Siem Reap, in northwest Cambodia, is the capital city of Siem Reap province. A fast-growing city and tourist hub, Siem Reap is best recognised as the gateway to the UNESCO-listed World Heritage site of the Angkor Archaeological Park.
The temples of Angkor, built by the Khmer civilisation between 802 and 1220 AD, represent one of humankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. From Angkor, the Khmer kings ruled over a vast domain that stretched from Vietnam to China to the Bay of Bengal. The structures at Angkor today are the remains of several capitals of the Khmer empire.
Angkor Wat is one of the most well preserved and largest of these structures. It was built for King Suryavarman II in the 12th century and was designed to represent Mount Meru, a sacred mountain of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cosmology. It remains a religious centre still today.
Angkor Wat is a powerful symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its flag, and is a source of great national pride that has factored into Cambodia's diplomatic relations with its neighbour Thailand, France and the United States.
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