Preah Vihear – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hey everyone, welcome to World Heritage Journey. Today we’re at Preah Vihear, in Cambodia. So this is a Khmer empire-era Hindu temple
in the far north of Cambodia, right on the border with Thailand. It’s from the 11th and 12th century, about
the same era as Angkor Wat, and it was the second most important spiritual home for the
Khmer Empire. Let’s have a look around. Preah Vihear temple is located on a mountain
ridge in the remote north of Cambodia, and is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Unusually for Angkor-style temples, it’s arranged
along a north-south axis, approximately 800 metres from end to end. The main complex here consists of five large
pavilions known as Gopura, all of which are connected by a causeway that slowly rises
along the ridge of the hill. It creates a really striking effect – as you
climb, you can only see the next Gopura looming above you. And it really makes you feel like you’re on
a long pilgrimage, even though you’ve been driven most of the way uphill in a Jeep! The buildings themselves are in fairly good
condition, though not quite as well preserved as other Hindu temples we’ve seen elsewhere. Looking closely, there’s quite a few intricate
carvings of Hindu deities, decorative motifs, and of course statues of naga and lions dotted
around the place. There’s the fantastic Lion Head Reservoir,
where a large water reservoir is watched over by a lion statue, and there’s also an excellent
shrine building with a huge tree sticking out of the roof. It’s obviously not an original feature, but
it certainly adds to the exciting feel of the place. The location is absolutely spectacular as
well, sitting right on the edge of a mountain with an almost-sheer 500 metre drop to the
plains below. I should mention as well that Preah Vihear
was quite a controversial addition to the World Heritage list in 2008. As it’s so close to the Thai-Cambodian border
(literally only a hundred or so metres away), ownership of the temple has been a hotly-debated
issue in both countries, particularly since 1962 when a court decision ruled the temple
belonged to Cambodia. Violence has sporadically broken out, most
recently in 2011 when a couple of soldiers were killed in firefights across the border. But thankfully things seemed to have cooled
down a bit when we visited.

2 thoughts on “Preah Vihear – UNESCO World Heritage Site

  1. Another spectacular place to visit! The surrounds look well maintained and it doesn't look overun with visitors. Is it difficult to get to?

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