Terrace of the Elephants (EN)

Terrace of the Elephants (EN)

The “Terrace of the Elephants” is one of the most visited sights in Angkor Thom and with a length of 300 meters and the fabulous, detailed decorations and buildings in any case worth a visit. The terrace is, so to speak, one half of the former royal terraces of Angkor Thom, the other being the “Terrace of the Leper King”

Terrace of the Elephants

Detailed decorations on the Terrace of the Elephants

The structure is located in the eastern part of the city and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name of the structure already suggests it: On the walls and on the stairs there are numerous depictions of elephants: On the one hand, the animals can be seen carrying a lotus flower, for example, and on the other hand, there are also images of an elephant hunt to be discovered. In addition, horses, monkeys, lions and people can be seen dancing or fighting.

This structure (still reasonably well preserved in its basic structures) was built by King Jayavarman VII at the beginning of the 13th century, when his reign was slowly coming to an end. The king is considered one of the most important rulers of the kings of Angkor. It was he who first had Angkor Thom built and eventually declared it the new capital of the empire.
In its original form, the “Terrace of Elephants” formed a conclusion to the royal building complex, next to the temples of Phimeanaka and Baphuon. King Jayavarman VII deliberately had the temple built in such a way that the large exposed area provided a place where he could hold processions, parades and games, which he watched with his family from the terrace. This wide view is still visible to visitors today and is one of the features that distinguishes this structure from similar buildings. What cannot be seen today are the former pavilions on the terraces that, according to some records, were there at the time of the temple’s construction, since they were made of wood and could not survive the long time.

From a purely architectural point of view, it should be noted that the structure can be divided into a northern and a southern part, in total there are five staircases (three larger and two smaller) along the square, with additional steps in the northern annex, in the southern part and on the northern facade. The terrace faces east, so it is recommended to visit in the morning to hope for the best light conditions.

The “Terrace of the Elephants” enchants with its imposing beauty, the wide view and the detailed decorations and should not be omitted in any case during a visit to Angkor Thom.