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Late Temples

Preah Pithu

Preah Pithu
Preah Pithu

Map of Preah Pithu by Glaize
Map of Preah Pithu by Glaize

In the north-east of the Royal Plaza, under shady trees, is an ensemble of five small temples. They are called Temples T, U, V, X, and Y.

Except Temple Y, the temples are similar: cruciform towers, raised on sandstone pedestals. The complex is shaded by magnificent trees. It is a picturesque site.

Temples T and U

Dating from 12th to early 13th century they shelter interesting lintel reliefs.

  • Preah Pithu U: The Churning of the Sea of Milk
    There is no pivot. Vishnu is riding the Naga. The legs of the gods and demons are hidden by foliage. In the middle, above Kurma, are some products of the churning: Lakshmi and another goddess, a horse and a baby elephant, young Airavan.
  • Preah Pithu U: Dancing Shiva between Brahma and Vishnu.

Temple V

This temple dates from the 13th century. It is linked to the Royal Plaza by a cruciform terrace, but it opens to the east.

A big lingam is standing in the north entrance. At the north face you can find a Neripal (“Fruit Woman”)

Temple X or: Prasat Ta Tuot

Dating from the 13th and 14th to 16th centuries, the small tower rises on a large base.

In the cella is a double frieze, showing the Buddha calling the Earth. The ushnisha (dome at the vertex) is topped by a flame; this is Thai style and post-Angkorian. A terrace links the temple to a pond at the east. Two Elephants, 2/3 life size, are guarding a long gone stairway.

Temple Y

(12th to 13th centuries) At the west side of the mandapa we find two half pediments, showing the Battle of Lanka and Vishnu's Three Strides.

Photo album

Preah Palilay

Preah Palilay
Preah Palilay

Preah Palilay, 200 m north of the Royal Palace, built in the late 13th century or later, consists of a ruined tower on a high pedestal, a well preserved gate pavilion, and a cruciform terrace with naga balustrades. The tower shelters a fragment of a statue, picturing the Buddha calling the Earth. The pavilion has fine Buddhist reliefs.

Photo album

The Decline of Angkor

Spean Thma

Spean Thma means “Stone Bridge”. It was built in the 16th century, where the road from the Royal Palace to Ta Keo crossed the Siem Reap River.

Originally, there were 14 pillars.

The bridge was built of sandstone blocks that were taken from temples at Angkor Thom; some of them are with reliefs. Angkor Thom was in decay at that time.


The bed of the river was since eroded. Now the water level is several meters deeper; the river has moved to the east.

This erosion was caused by faster-running water.

The irrigation system was the basis for the cultivation of the rice. It had been extended and had eventually broken down, because of erosion.

Also, there was a draught in the 14th century.


The breakdown of the irrigation system was the deciding factor for the decline of Angkor.

Angkor declined by itself and hardly by forces from outside.

The Siamese (Thai) are said to have invaded Angkor in 1431. This event is this disputed; history knows next to nothing about the 14th and 15th centuries.

The Royal Court moved to the south of Cambodia.