Where, what and why?
Ankgor was the capital city of the Khmer empire, that once controlled much of South East asia, built in the 12th century for their King Suryavarman II. The empire flourished for many centuries, but around 500 years ago the Khmer fled this incredible city. The city was slowly swallowed up by the jungle and the empire and the city was almost entirely forgotten about.
Not until the writtings of french explorer Henri Mouhot, was the city again redisciovered by the world, he described the city: "One of these temples—a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo — might take an honourable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged."
Slowly over time archeologists have discovered more and more about the city and the Khmer people who built it. We now know that it was the failing fertility of the arable land around Angkor that forced the people to flee and forced the city into an eternal slumber.
Map of Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Today Angkor Wat is a world heritage site located near to the modern city of Siem Reap. Ankor Wat is now one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world and an essential addition to the itineraries of any Cambodia holidays. In 2004 and 2005 over half a million foregin tourists visited Siem Reap.
The large number of tourists has so far caused relatively little damage; ropes and wooden steps have been introduced to protect the bas-reliefs and floors. Tourism has also provided a lot of additional money to help with continuing maintenance and restoration — as of 2000 approximately 28% of ticket revenues across the whole Angkor site were spent on the temples.
Flickr Set of Angkor