Part of the world famous destination of Angkor, the Bayon temple features a sea of over 200 massive stone faces looking in all direction. Over 2000 large faces carved on the 54 tower give this temple its majestic character. Built in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII as part of a massive expansion of his capital Angkor Thom, the Bayon is built at the exact center of the royal city. Bayon is known for its huge stone faces of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, with one facing outward and keeping watch at each compass point. The curious smiling image, thought by many to be a portrait of Jayavarman himself, has been dubbed by some the “Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia.” There are 51 smaller towers surrounding Bayon, each with four faces of its own. Bayon Temple is surrounded by two long walls bearing an extraordinary collection of bas-relief scenes of legendary and historical events. In all, there are are total of more than 11,000 carved figures over 1.2km of wall. They were probably originally painted and gilded, but this has long since faded. If you enter Bayon by the east gate and view the reliefs in a Clockwise direction. The dense jungle surround the temple camouflaged its position in relation to other structures at Angkor so it was not known for some time that the Bayon stands in the exact centre of the city of Angkor Thom.
The Bayon was built nearly 100 years after Angkor Wat. The basic structure and earliest part of the temple ate not known. Since it was located at the centre of a royal city it seems possible that the Bayon would have originally been a temple-mountain conforming to the symbolism of a microcosm of Mount Meru. The middle part of the temple was extended during the second phase of building. The Bayon of today belong to the third and last phase of the art style. The architectural scale and composition of the Bayon exude grandness in every aspects. Its elements juxtapose each other to create balance and harmony.