Battambang, Cambodia

Cambodia Cambodia > Siem Reap

Siem Reap City Siem Reap

Siem Reap is a bustling tourist town known primarily for the discovery of the lost city of Angkor, the seat of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th century that stretched across Southeast Asia. Its temple system was taken over by the jungle at the collapse of the empire and kept hidden for centuries until 1860, when missionaries* discovered the ruins in the heart of the Cambodian jungle. It is a vast and intricate temple system twice the size of Manhattan with stones numbering more than the pyramids of Egypt. Among its temple system are the famous Temple of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Bayon Temple. Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Archeologists and historians explain that the collapse of the empire was a succession of tragic events - the attack and pillage of the Champa People (now the Vietnamese), failure of agriculture and the final blow, the victory of its long rival, the Siams (now the Thais). The Khmers fled the city and the jungle encroached on it until its discovery in the 19th century.

*Henri Mouhot is often credited for the discovery of Angkor Wat, but French missionaries already documented its discovery 5 years earlier. Henri however, is responsible for popularizing the discovery to the Western world.