The Buddhist Bayon Temple was built in the late 12th or early 13th century and stands in the middle of Angkor Thom, the capital of the empire of King Jayavarman VII.
Its most distinctive feature is its multitude of towers, each bearing a serenely smiling face on each of its four sides.
The gigantic faces bear a striking resemblance to the statues of King Jayavarman VII, which have led some scholars to believe that they are images of the king himself. Others believe that they are representations of the bodhisattva of compassion.
Older temples in Angkor Thom survive. The three-tiered Baphuon Temple, built in the mid-11th century, was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
The 10th century Phimeanakas Temple is located within the walls of the royal palace. It is associated with a very interesting legend which involves the king and a Naga, a mythological creature in the form of a snake which, in Cambodia, has seven heads.
Angkor Thom's kings had a long stone terrace which they used for public ceremonies and audiences. It is now known as the Terrace of the Elephants because of the parade of elephants decorating the surviving portions.