Cambodia's Most Famous Sacred Temple

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In the past year, a record number of tourists visited Cambodia’s most famed sacred temple. A startling 2.86 million flocked from all over the globe to visit Angkor Wat, while taking up temporary residence in the nearby town of Siam Reap during their stay. Angkor Wat has evolved into an everlasting symbol of Cambodia. The Khmer King Suryavarman II built this Hindu temple in the early 12th century to serve as the state temple and later as a mausoleum. From the beginning this monument possessed a “particular kind of value and significance that combined spiritual potency with the temporal power of its creator” (French 173). This temple has withstood the test of time, enduring religious conversions, political upheaval, and civil strife that manifested in Cambodia over the years. However, as the country moves towards a more global view where the tourist economy takes a prevalent stand, the integrity of this World Heritage site has become compromised. From the years 1992 to 2004, Angkor Wat earned itself a spot on UNESCO’s “World Heritage in Danger” list. The criteria met that put Angkor Wat in this spot includes: “serious deterioration of materials…structure and/or ornamental features…architectural or town-planning coherence…[and] urban or rural space.” Even though it is no longer on the list, the structure still faces the threat of deterioration, vandalism, and the like. Despite its precarious position, tourists still flock by the millions to the site, most staying in the town

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