In order to truly understand the real Cambodia, one must visit one of the great archaeological sites in the world; the spiritual heart and identity of the Khmer people: the
Angkor complex. Had any of the main temples, especially
Angkor Wat been built anywhere else they would be as famous or as visited as the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, the Coliseum or the Pyramids of Egypt. Angkor is without doubt one of the most breathtaking architectural masterpieces left standing in the world today. Without witnessing them at first hand it is impossible to gauge the enormity of task faced by the builders of the time and the fact they are so complete after all this time is further testament to the advanced construction techniques employed more than a millennium ago. Everything is built on a massive scale and one can only imagine the awe felt by ancient visitors as the civilization was at its peak. It is estimated that over one million people lived there making it the largest metropolis in its time. Witness the two hand dug reservoirs that served the civilization's rice growing agriculture: The Eastern Baray measures 7 km by 1.8 km and the Western Baray a staggering 8 km by 2.3 km.
Angkor Wat is the cultural home of the Khmer people and its form, in various guises has appeared and is still on the national flag. Had it been located in the Mediterranean basin it would have been one of the eight wonders of the world. The Lost City of Angkor was to remain undiscovered by Western archaeologists until the late 19th century and ever since has continued to amaze all who see it for the first time: neither words nor pictures do it justice. Angkor Wat is a legacy of the might that was once the Khmer Empire, a detailed history of which has been carved into the many walls of this fortified temple. The temple is accessible by a giant stone causeway across the hundred ninety meter moat, itself an incredible feat of engineering, to the west face of the Wat.