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Siem Reap
The majestic temples of Angkor in northwest Cambodia belong to the classic period of Khmer art and civilization. Today, a millennium after they were built, the awe visitors with their perfection and enormity. The temples are the creation of a succession of Khmer kings who presided over an empire that dominated most of present-day. Southeast Asia from 800 to 1430 reaching its peak in the 12th century. The period began with the ascension to the throne by King JayavarmanII.
 
From the 15th century, the temples were abandonee by the kings and subsequently forgotten until their "rediscover” in 1861 by the French naturalist Henri Mouhot.
 
The jungle setting and silence enhance the mystery of the temples. One early discovers reaction upon seeing Angkor Wat more than 130 years ago may not be so different from what travelers can experience to day: "The temple stands solitary and alone in the jungle, in too perfect order to be called a ruin, a relic of a race far ahead of the present, "explorer D.O. King wrote in 1860, in his "travels in Siam and Cambodia.
 
The period began with the ascension to the throne by King JayavarmanII. From the 15th century, the temples were abandonee by the kings and subsequently forgotten until their "rediscover” in 1861 by the French naturalist Henri Mouhot. Many of the temples remain in surprisingly good condition. Others are under restoration and visitors can get a first-hand look at the painstaking efforts under way to preserve the relics.
 
Architectural historians from a variety of countries, including France, India, Japan, the United States, Indonesia and Hungary, in the past several years have contributed their expertise to reserve the temples.
 
The ruins cover an area of 400 square kilometers in the province of Siem Reap. The area contains more than 100 monuments, including two dozen major temples. Some of the temples, such as Angkor Wat and Bayon, merit several visits at different times of day to fully appreciate the artistic qualities of the temple carvings as they reflect varying degrees of sunlight. Most of the temples are located a few kilometers from downtown Siem Reap, which has developed over the past few years and is home to several new hotels, which givers it the infrastructure in needs to support the increasing numbers of tourists.
 
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