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Angkor Wat

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Nicole Jimmelson
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« on: April 26, 2007, 03:44:58 pm »

Outer enclosure
 


A model of Angkor Wat prior to its ruin shows the half-galleries of the lower level and intact towers at the corners of the second-level galleries.

The outer wall, 1025 by 802 m and 4.5 m high, is surrounded by a 30 m apron of open ground and a moat 190 m wide. Access to the temple is by an earth bank to the east and a sandstone causeway to the west; the latter, the main entrance, is a later addition, possibly replacing a wooden bridge.[26] There are gopuras at each of the cardinal points; the western is much the largest and has three ruined towers. Glaize notes that this gopura both hides and echoes the form of the temple proper.[27] Under the southern tower is a statue of Vishnu, known as Ta Reach, which may originally have occupied the temple's central shrine.[28] Galleries run between the towers and as far as two further entrances on either side of the gopura often referred to as "elephant gates", as they are large enough to admit those animals. These galleries have square pillars on the outer (west) side and a closed wall on the inner (east) side. The ceiling between the pillars is decorated with lotus rosettes; the west face of the wall with dancing figures; and the east face of the wall with balustered windows, dancing male figures on prancing animals, and devatas, including (south of the entrance) the only one in the temple to be showing her teeth.

The outer wall encloses a space of 820,000 square metres (203 acres), which besides the temple proper was originally occupied by the city and, to the north of the temple, the royal palace. Like all secular buildings of Angkor, these were built of perishable materials rather than of stone, so nothing remains of them except the outlines of some of the streets.[29] Most of the area is now covered by forest. A 350 m causeway connects the western gopura to the temple proper, with naga balustrades and six sets of steps leading down to the city on either side. Each side also features a library with entrances at each cardinal point, in front of the third set of stairs from the entrance, and a pond between the library and the temple itself. The ponds are later additions to the design, as is the cruciform terrace guarded by lions connecting the causeway to the central structure.[30]

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