Phnom Bakheng Temple

Phnom Bakheng Temple

Phnom Bakheng - the state temple of the first Khmer capital in the Angkor region, survives as one of the world’s greatest architectural treasures.

Phnom Bakheng is a temple built on a hill of the same name, where the first city at Angkor was established. It’s located 1,30 meters (4,265 feet) north of Angkor Wat and 400 meters (1,312 feet) south of Angkor Thom.

Phnom Bakheng is square with a base of five tiers (1-5) and five sanctuaries (6-10) on the top level, occupying the corners and the middle of the terrace. The sides of the base are each 76 meters (249 feet) long and the total height is 13 meters (43 feet). Each side of the base has a steep stairway with a 70 incline. Seated lions flank each of the five tiers. Vestiges of the wall with entry towers surrounding the temple remain.

Seated lions sculpted in the round are on each side of the slope near the summit. The proportions on these lions are particularly fine. Further on, there is a small building on the right with sandstone pillars; the two lingas now serve as boundary stones. Continuing towards the top, one comes to a footprint of the Buddha in the center of the path. This is enclosed in a cement basin and covered with a wooden roof.


Closer to the top, remains of an entry tower in the outside wall enclosing the temple are visible. Two sandstone libraries on either side of the walkway are identified by rows of diamond-shaped holes in the walls. Both libraries open to the west and have a porch on the east side.

Small brick sanctuary towers occupy the corners of each tier and each side of the stairway.

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