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Temple of Preah Vihear

Situated on the edge of a plateau that dominates the plain of Cambodia, the Temple of Preah Vihear is dedicated to Shiva. The Temple is composed of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases over an 800 metre long axis and dates back to the first half of the 11th century AD. Nevertheless, its complex history can be traced to the 9th century, when the hermitage was founded. This site is particularly well preserved, mainly due to its remote location. The site is exceptional for the quality of its architecture, which is adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the temple, as well as for the exceptional quality of its carved stone ornamentation.

Originally, Preah Vihear was home to a hermit community; you can still see the caves in the cliffs where the hermits lived, a feature of the landscape Khmer. The foundation of the chapel is often associated with the construction of a sanctuary by Prince Indrâyudha, son of King Jayavarman II, at the request of Shiva, in the early ninth century. Prince installed a large part of the linga of Vat Phou. However, the origins of Preah Vihear were probably older. The building Indrâyudha was a modest wooden structure, located at the site of the existing stone building, and only minor changes occurred under the Khmer lords who succeeded in the tenth century.
Four Sanskrit and Khmer inscriptions dating provide a valuable property, and confirm that the King Suryavarman I was closely involved in the construction of the current set. The king erected the pillars engraved (ling) at different points in its vast territory, with his name and title Sûryavarmeshvara (Suryavarman Lord), and one of them was trained to Preah Vihear in the early eleventh century, there at the request of Shiva. It was located near the original temple, which was quickly rebuilt in stone at the time of extension work of the temple.
By 1050, new construction had reached the gopura 3, then the work progressed more slowly, partly because of difficult terrain and frequent landslides. The set was not completed until the twelfth century, when King Suryavarman II entrusted the work to one of his best architects, Divâkarapandita.
Ownership of the property was the subject of intense negotiations in the nineteenth and early twentieth century between the French and Thai governments. A treaty of 1904 conferred with France, which Cambodia was a protectorate. It was claimed by Thailand in 1934 and served six years later. It was not until 1962 that the International Court of Justice in The Hague confirmed the property by the newly independent state of Cambodia.
The site was closed for more than twenty years in the 1970s because of the troubled history of Cambodia. Fortunately, the isolation that allowed Preah Vihear is not altered during this period, although it was undermined by the Khmer Rouge, who left the scene in 1998.
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