The Bayon, the central temple in the city of Angkor Thom, known for its faces and bas-relief carvings.
The Bayon is the central temple of the Angkor Thom compound, and was built by Jayavarman VII and VIII in the late 12th to 13th centuries. It is located in the exact center of Angkor Thom, the symbolic center of the universe. Because Jayavarman VII was a passionate Buddhist and Jayavarman VIII an equally passionate Hindu, it has a combination of Buddhist and Hindu themes. Because of its central location and the fortifications surrounding Angkor Thom, later kings found it easier to remodel the palace according to their own beliefs, rather than reconstruct it. As a result, it has leftovers from many religions
The Bayon is known for its face towers–there were originally 49 of them, of which 37 are still standing. Most have four large smiling faces, but some have three or only two, and the central tower has more (!). These faces are quite large–4-8 feet across.
The other main feature of the Bayon is the bas-relief carvings. There are two sets, one outside depicting scenes from daily life, and one inside, with Hindu religious themes (added by Jayavarman VIII after the death of Jayavarman VII). I took photos of some of the more amusing ones…
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