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General information, history
The Royal Palace was certainly the central figure Angkor Thoma. It occupied a large area in the northwestern part of Angkor Thom, where both the palace itself and all the infrastructure necessary for the royal family were located.
In the form that the restored schemes-plans of the Royal Palace offer to our attention, the territory was built up by King Jayavarman VII (Jayavarman VII, ruled 1181-1220). However, there were other kings before him, in particular, the Pimeanakas temple was built during the reign of Suryavarman I (X – XI centuries).
Unfortunately, there is nothing left of the Royal Palace itself, like all residential buildings, it was built of wood. You can see only the preserved artificial pools, the entrance gopuras and the Pimeanakas temple located in the center. It is worth adding: according to scientists, the area of the Royal Palace was divided into 5 zones. One belonged to the king, this included the Palace itself, Pimeanakas temple, the Sras Srei pool; the second belonged to the queen, the third, with parks and gardens– to his numerous wives and concubines, the fourth to his personal protection of the king, the fifth – to meet the needs of the royal family (kitchen, warehouses and other household buildings).
Structure (plan) of the territory
The large territory of the Royal Palace has the form of a rectangle with sides 600 m by 250 m. In addition, adjacent to the territory of the Palace are Elephant Terraces and The Leper King, which are also integral parts of it. The entire perimeter of the Palace is surrounded by a double stone wall with a height of about 5 m, the distance from one wall to the other is about 25 m. Royal Palace on the map of Angkor)
The main entrance to the palace is located behind the main entrance of the Terrace of Elephants. The road leading through the eastern gate, the Victory Gate, approaches this entrance. In addition to the main entrance to the Palace, you can get through the entrance two gopuras – from the north and south. The entrance (central) gopura has three towers and two pavilions on both sides. Of interest here are the inscriptions on the jambs, which mean the text of the oath of allegiance to the king (according to some sources - Suryavarman I). The rest of the entrance gopuras are cruciform, also with two pavilions raised more than one meter from the ground.
Short-lived materials such as sandstone, laterite, brick and wood were used in the construction of the Royal Palace. In particular, all the royal chambers and other living quarters were built of wood, and therefore nothing has survived to this day. Wars and other cataclysms also had their effect. On the territory belonging to the residence of the king, in addition to the palace itself, there were several other buildings, terraces, artificial pools and the "royal" temple – Pimeanakas.
Tips for inspection
The best-preserved entrance gopura is considered to be the north-western one, through which it is recommended to enter the territory of the Royal Palace, followed by a tour of other attractions. Next, we will list those places that are worth looking at, in the order of their appearance from the mentioned entrance. However, if you choose a different route, you can adjust it yourself, knowing where and what to see.
So, from the northwestern gopura, you need to walk along the wall to the west, where there will be an artificial pool with an area of 50 m by 25 m. Approximately in this part of the Palace there was a women's part, and therefore the pool was intended exclusively for the wives and concubines of the king. If you go a little further along the same wall (to the west), you can find an open cruciform pavilion, it is interesting for the bas-reliefs located on its walls.
Turning sharply in the opposite direction (to the east), the road leads to the central part of the Royal Palace – to the temple of Pimeanakas and two artificial pools located near the northern wall. One of them, and the largest (125 m by 45 m) – Sras Srei (Sras Srei) with a depth of approximately 5 m. The edges are lined with sand blocks and lined with interesting and in some places well-preserved bas-reliefs. This pool was the pool of the king, various water performances were held here. Nearby (to the east) the second pool is smaller in size (40 m by 20 m, depth 4.5 m) – it was intended for the queen.
Near the opposite wall (in the southeast) there are less significant and dilapidated objects, and, accordingly, not of particular interest. This is a cruciform sandstone terrace, just to the right of it are the ruins of four pavilions, each of which had only one entrance oriented to the west. Again to the right, and two more pavilions, also not in the best condition. The larger one is similar in architecture to the library building with two entrances (to the west and east).