Constructed: Late 12th century C.E.
King/Patron: Jayavarman VII
Bayon is a richly decorated Khmer temple built in the late twelfth century or early thirteenth century. Built at the centre of King Jayavarman’s capital, Angkor Thom was the last state temple to be built at Angkor, and the only Angkorian state temple to be built primarily as a Mahayana Buddhist shrine dedicated to the Buddha. Following Jayavarman’s death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance to their religious preferences.
Bayon’s most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers that jut from the upper terrace and cluster around its center peak. The similarity of the 216 gigantic faces to other statues of Jayavarman VII has led many scholars to the hypothesise that the faces are representations of the king himself. Others believe that the faces belong to Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.
The temple is also popular for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes. This is one of the many ‘must visit’ temples.