Faces in stone

The mysterious smiling faces of Bayon Temple

Written by Alistair Bancroft

Cambodia TravelFebruary 28th, 2018

Dating from the late 12th century, Bayon Temple is the dramatic central temple of the ancient city of Angkor Thom, located just 3km north of Angkor Wat.

Constructed during the reign of the King Jayavarman VII from the late 12th century to early 13th century, Bayon Temple stands magnificently in the heart of Angkor Thom.

The Bayon Temple is one of the most famous after Angkor Wat.

The Bayon Temple consists of 54 gigantic towers, representing the 54 provinces of the Khmer Empire period, each richly decorated with numerous gargantuan smiling faces of Jayavarman VII, carved into the stone at all angles.

Faces of Bayon Temple.

Faces of Bayon Temple.

The temple is also adorned with thousands of bas-reliefs, incorporating more than 11,000 figures depicting the activities of life during the era.

Demonstrating the ever-changing religious beliefs of the empire, Bayon Temple is characterised by both Buddhist and Hindu features.

Since the construction of the temple however, several of the towers have toppled and only an estimated 200 faces remain.