Cambodia’s Angkor Wat

11 November 2016

Beautiful and amazing masterpieces like Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, and the Angkor Wat have been missing a sense of acknowledgement. Humankind’s architectural accomplishments have been given to the ancient wonders of the world. This list was decided about 2,200 years ago. During those centuries, six of the seven wonders have been destroyed or may have never even existed. The Egyptian pyramids are the only survivors from the original list of the ancient wonders.

Candidates for a new list of world wonders have been drawn up in a global competition, “with more than 20 million people voting. ” (Engeler and Higgins E3) People could vote for their favorite artifact, meanwhile; bringing countries and their cultures together. This campaign was started in 1999 by Bernard Weber, a Swiss adventurer who wanted to broaden cultural awareness all over the world. “Weber ‘felt it [was] time for something new to bring the world together’ and to ‘symbolize a common pride in the global cultural heritage’” (Viering qtd. n Engeler and Higgins E3). Money raised by Weber’s Switzerland-based foundation and other donations will help perserve the atifacts for future generations, otherwise; they will end up like the last world wonders. Mexico’s Chichen Itza, India’s Taj Mahal, Jordan’s Petra, Brazil’s Christ Redeemer, Rome’s Colosseum, the Great Wall of China, and Peru’s Machu Picchu were chosen as the new seven wonders of the world from a global poll (“New” A7). These new seven world wonders hold a great deal of history and culture in each one.

The Angkor Wat should have definitely made the final list, but was cut with 14 other nominated landmarks. Cambodia’s Angkor Wat holds a great deal of historical, cultural, and architectual significance and should have won a place on the new list of world wonders. The Angkor Wat, “[r]egarded as the supreme masterpiece of Khmer architecture, … is a huge pyramid temple built by Suryavarman II between 1113 and 1150” (“Angkor Wat Facts”). One of the reasons the Angkor Wat is historic is because it was a royal pyramid/temple that was at the center of the king’s capital and extended outward in the Khmer civilazation.

The temple served as his state temple and capital city. Construction of the Angkor Wat started when King Suryavarman II rose to power in 1113 CE. This monument took nearly half a century to build. But when Suryavarman died around 1150 all work came to a halt (Mannikka). These Khmer architects were also astronomers and have been building temples since the sixth century. It is truly amazing that this religious site has been standing for over eight centuries. It was their last architectural achievement that was their perfection. Never again would Khmer architecture reach the same level of attainment and precision” (Mannikka). Because of its cultural significance, another reason why the Angkor Wat should have won the contest is because the structure is the “best preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre, first Hindu, then Buddhist” (“Angkor Wat”). The Angkor Wat was first dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu. The temple of Angkor Wat has also become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on the national flag (Central).

The Angkor Wat is also part of the Angkor World Heritage Site, which has boosted tourism (Ringer). And “[u]nlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is orientated to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this” (“Angkor Wat”). There are hundreds of temple sites in Cambodia, but what makes the Angkor Wat unique is its high classical style of Khmer architecture. Even with the history of rebel insurgency around the Angkor region, the priceless statues and carvings are still prime attractions for tourists.

Today, Cambodia’s Angkor is still the largest religious temple in the entire world. That is a very important reason why the Angkor Wat should’ve won the contest. This temple holds a great deal of architectural significance. “It is surrounded by a moat 570 feet wide and about four miles long. The mass of bas-relief carving is of the highest quality and the most beautifully executed in Angkor” (“Angkor Wat Facts”). And not to mention that the Angkor Wat is still the largest religious monument in the world after eight centuries.

The central temple consists of three stories with five towers around the center. The central tower measured 55 meters about the ground. The central tower stands for Mount Meru, which is the center of the universe and home of the gods in Hindu mythology (Ringer). If Angkor Wat is the largest and the best preserved of the monuments, it is also the most impressive in the character of its grand architectural composition, being comparable to the finest of architectural achievements anywhere.

By means of its perfectly ordered and balanced plan, by the harmony of its proportions and the purity of its lines – of a solemnity that one rarely encounters in the Khmer themselves – and by the very particular care taken in its construction, it merits being placed at the apogee of an art that can occasionally surprise in its complexity and poor craftsmanship. This temple is the one that comes closest to our latin ideas of unity and classic order, born of a symmetry responding to the emphatic axes. Angkor Wat is a work of power and reason. “Angkor Wat ‘The temple city’”)

Today, Cambodia’s Angkor is an amazing tourist’s attaction because of its beauty, size, and history. This is a great site for people to visit. It is a definite must-see whenever traveling in that part of the world. Even though tourists might not be able to see the entire structure in one day, they can visually experience the wonders that this monument has to offer. This worldwide contest has reminded us of all of humankind’s greatest achievements. People will always argue that some achievements are considered greater than others. But if we do not take care of these structures, they will vanish just like the other ancient wonders. And then we will have nothing show for the accomplishments, only pictures and stories.

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