TripAdvisor has named the world's most popular landmark for 2017, and no, it's not Machu Picchu. This year, Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia pipped Peru's bucket-list destination to be the biggest landmark for the year. With more than two million people visiting the site last year, a number that brings in around $US60 million dollars annually to Cambodia.
Back in 1993 the temple saw as little as 7360 visitors, a figure that ballooned to 561,000 over the following decade. The complex of temples is the largest in the world, spanning 162 hectares. It was originally constructed as a Hindu temple but was gradually transformed into Buddhist during the late 12th century. The main complex, surrounded by a huge moat, is known for its spectacular sunrises and sunsets, driving tourists in their droves.
The Background of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat, is the largest monument of the Angkor group and the best preserved, is an architectural masterpiece. Its perfection in composition, balance, proportions, relief's and sculpture make it one of the finest monuments in the world.
Wat is the Khmer name for temple (the French spelling is "vat "), which was probably added to "Angkor "when it became a Theravada Buddhist monument, most likely in the sixteenth century. After 1432 when the capital moved to Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat was cared for by Buddhist monks.
It is generally accepted that Angkor Wat was a funerary temple for King Suryavarman II and oriented to the west to conform to the symbolism between the setting sun and death. The bas-reliefs, designed for viewing from left to right in the order of Hindu funereal ritual, support this function.