Banteay Samre – The fortress of the “Samré

Banteay Samre – The fortress of the “Samré

Banteay Samre (which translates into German as the “Fortress of the Samré) is a temple complex from the Khmer Empire and is located pretty much between the Roluos Group, which lies to the south of it, and the temple Banteay Srei, which lies to the north. For visitors, it is recommended to arrive by one of the tour buses, many of which are offered here.

banteay samre

The Samré were an ethnic tribe in Cambodia and in Thailand, after whom the temple complex was named. The site is part of the Angkor Archaeological Park and although not quite as large as the surrounding temples, it is very well preserved, which makes it all the more attractive for a visit.

Banteay Samre was rediscovered in the 1930s by a team of French explorers and freed of flora and fauna to the extent that a visit and exploration was finally possible. This process took a full eight years.

Since the site has no corresponding, unambiguous inscriptions, it is difficult to estimate exactly when it was built and under whose regency. Based on the architectural style, however, researchers assume that this construction must have been commissioned under King Suryavarman II. This would then be chronologically located in the first half of the 12th century.

From an architectural perspective, the first thing that stands out is the similarity to the Thai temple complex Prasat Hin Phimai, which can be found in the Phimai Historical Park in the northeast region of Thailand. Both are considered representatives of the Angkor Wat era.

The structure includes an inner and outer ring, with four archways in the latter through which visitors can enter (usually this is done through the northern gate). Especially the reliefs on the archways allow to learn a lot about the everyday life and beliefs of the temple inhabitants. These are still very well preserved.

Especially beautiful are the many pictures and depictions, which interestingly do not only show Hindu scenes, but also deal with Buddhist themes, which is unusual for a temple complex that was built before the change of the state religion in the Khmer Empire – from Hinduism to Buddhism. It is likely, however, that the Buddhist depictions were added after the fact so that the complex could continue to be used as a place of worship.

For visitors to the region who are now eager to visit Banteay Samre, it is important to know that neither of the two circular routes of the Angkor area includes this temple complex. Nevertheless, quite a lot of visitors come to the temple. For those who want to discover the complex in peace and do not shy away from the early morning, it is recommended to visit the sunrise from there, as there are usually still quite few tourists on site.