Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the great wonders of the world, is undoubtedly the key attraction in northern Cambodia’s Angkor Archeological Park, if not in the entire country. The park lies about 4 miles north of Siem Reap, a charming city with its combination of Chinese and French influences.
The temple at Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century, in the capital of what was then the Khmer empire. While initially dedicated to the Hindi god Vishnu, Angkor Wat became a religious center for Buddhism in the 13th century. This breathtakingly beautiful temple features decorative bas-relief friezes and devatas (the Hindu term for deities) on its walls.
All of the Khmer monuments, including Angkor Wat, were strongly influenced by France, which made Cambodia its protectorate in 1863. The French took control of the ruins at Angkor, and Cambodia did not regain control until 1953.