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Angkor Thom (អង្គរធំ)

Khmer. ‘Big Angkor’. Name of a three square kilometer walled and moated royal Khmer city in Cambodia, built in the 12th century during the reign of King Jayavarman VII (fig.), who ruled from probably 1181 to 1219. After King Jayavarman VII recaptured the Angkorian capital from the Cham invaders in 1181, he began a massive building campaign across his empire, constructing Angkor Thom as his new capital and adding an outer wall and moat. The city has five entrance gates, one for each cardinal point and the Victory Gate which leads to the royal palace area. Each gate is crowned with four giant faces and with statues of the god Indra and his mount Erawan on each of the gate's corners. In front of each of the gates, in the approach to the city, are naga-bridges, known in Khmer as Spean Neak, that cross the moat and have balustrades displaying the churning of the Ocean of Milk by the gods and the asuras (fig.). In 1352, the Ayutthayan King U-Thong laid siege to Angkor Thom and the next year successfully captured the city, placing one of their princes on the throne, though in 1357 the Khmer regained control. Then, in the 15th century,  Angkor Thom was again raided by the Ayutthayan King Borommarachathirat II, and abandoned. It was the last capital of the Angkorian Empire and is located to the north of Angkor Wat. It has the great temple of Bayon (fig.) at its centre, while other structures include Prasat Vimean Akas (fig.), the Terrace of the Leper King (map - fig.) and the Terrace of the Elephants (map - fig.). In Thai, known as Nakhon Thom. See also ton lanthom and MAP.