Dating back to the 12th century, Bayon Temple is the stunning central temple of the ancient city of Angkor Thom. The temples are located north of the famous Angkor Wat.
Bayon Temple was built in 1190 AD by King Jayavarman VII, and is a Buddhist temple but it integrates elements of Hindu cosmology.
Built as a square, Angkor Thom, with the sides running exactly north to south and east to west and standing in exactly the center, Bayon Temple signifies the intersection of heaven and earth.
Bayon is known for its huge stone faces of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, with one facing outward and keeping watch at each compass point. The curious smiling image, thought by many to be a portrait of Jayavarman himself, has been nicknamed by some the “Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia.” There are 51 smaller towers surrounding Bayon, each with four faces of its own.
Bayon Temple is surrounded by two long walls bearing a remarkable collection of bas-relief scenes of legendary and historical events. In all, there are a total of over 11,000 carved figures.