Pre Rup Temple

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Discover the Enchanting Pre Rup Temple: A Must-Visit in Cambodia

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Pre Rup Temple, located in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is a magnificent and enchanting destination that should not be missed. This ancient temple has been standing for over a thousand years and is believed to have been built in the 10th century during the reign of King Rajendravarman II.

Pre Rup Temple is one of the most significant and breathtaking temples in Cambodia, reflecting the country’s rich cultural and religious heritage. The temple’s stunning architecture, intricate carvings, and unique design elements make it a must-visit destination for tourists and history buffs alike.

Key Takeaways

  • Pre Rup Temple is located in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
  • The temple was built in the 10th century during the reign of King Rajendravarman II.
  • Pre Rup Temple is an important cultural and historical site in Cambodia, featuring stunning architecture, intricate carvings, and unique design elements.

The History of Pre Rup Temple

Pre Rup Temple is a magnificent temple complex located in Siem Reap, Cambodia, with a rich history dating back to the 10th century. Built during the reign of King Rajendravarman, it served as the state temple of the Khmer Empire and was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

Pre Rup Temple was constructed using sandstone blocks in a unique temple mountain style, which was typical of the Khmer Empire during the 10th century. The temple consists of three large towers, or prasats, which represent Mount Meru, the mythical home of the gods in Hindu mythology.

The temple’s name, “Pre Rup,” translates to “turn the body,” as it is believed that the king’s ashes were ritually rotated in different directions during the cremation ceremony. Despite its name, the temple was not originally a burial site, but rather a place of worship for the ruling elite.

Pre Rup Temple’s significance extends beyond its role as a religious center. It is considered a masterpiece of Khmer architecture and art, with intricate carvings and decorative motifs adorning the temple’s walls and pillars. The temple also served as an important observatory, with its central tower aligned with the cardinal points of the compass, allowing for astrological observations and calculations.

The Purpose and Role of Pre Rup Temple

Pre Rup Temple was built during the transition from the early to the middle period of the Khmer Empire, when the empire was expanding and consolidating its control over the region. As the state temple, Pre Rup played a crucial role in legitimizing the king’s power and authority, as well as promoting the Hindu religion and its associated rituals and beliefs.

The temple was also used as a royal crematorium, where the ashes of deceased kings and other members of the royal family were cremated and interred. The temple’s central tower served as a symbolic representation of Mount Meru and the abode of the gods, making it an appropriate location for the interment of royalty.

Pre Rup Temple was abandoned and fell into disrepair after the decline of the Khmer Empire in the 15th century. However, it has since been restored and remains an iconic symbol of Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage and artistic legacy.

Architecture and Design of Pre Rup Temple

The architecture and design of Pre Rup Temple reflect the grandeur and sophistication of the Khmer Empire. Built in the 10th century AD, Pre Rup Temple is a classic example of the temple-mountain style, which was popular during the early Angkor period. This style is characterized by a pyramid-shaped structure with a series of terraces and ascending levels.

Pre Rup Temple consists of three tiers, each adorned with ornate carvings and sculptures. The lower tier is the largest, measuring 100 square meters and featuring five sets of staircases. The second tier is slightly smaller, with two sets of staircases leading up to it. The upper tier is the smallest and simplest, with a central tower and four surrounding towers.

The temple’s central tower stands at 12 meters in height, and it is believed to have served as a symbolic axis mundi, connecting the earth and the heavens. The temple’s intricate carvings and bas-reliefs depict scenes from Hindu mythology, including the churning of the ocean of milk and the battle between the gods and demons.

The temple also features several design elements that reflect the cultural influences of the Khmer Empire. For example, the temple’s lintels and pediments are decorated with intricate floral motifs and figures from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. The temple’s corbel arches, which are designed to support the weight of the temple’s structures, are also decorated with intricate carvings of divine beings and mythical creatures.

The Influence of Indian Architecture

The architecture of Pre Rup Temple bears a strong resemblance to that of Indian temples, particularly those found in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This is due to the close cultural and religious ties between the Khmer Empire and India at the time of Pre Rup’s construction.

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The temple’s pyramid shape and multi-tiered structure are reminiscent of the gopurams, or gateway towers, found in southern Indian temples. The temple’s intricate carvings and sculptures also draw upon the artistic traditions of India, particularly the Chola dynasty, which was known for its elaborate temple architecture and sculpture.

Symbolism and Legends Surrounding Pre Rup Temple

Pre Rup Temple is not only a magnificent architectural masterpiece, but it also holds deep religious and cultural significance. The intricate carvings and structures within the temple complex are rich with symbolism and legends that offer insight into the beliefs and values of the Khmer Empire.

One of the most prominent symbols found throughout Pre Rup Temple is the lotus flower. The lotus is a revered symbol in Buddhism and represents enlightenment, purity, and rebirth. It is depicted in many carvings throughout the temple, including in the central tower.

Another prominent symbol found at Pre Rup Temple is the Naga, a mythical serpent creature with a multi-headed hood that is believed to guard the temple complex. The Naga is a symbol of protection and fertility and can be seen in carvings throughout the temple.

Legends also surround Pre Rup Temple, such as the myth of the golden statue. According to legend, a golden statue of a goddess was once housed within Pre Rup Temple. The statue was so valuable that it was hidden underground to protect it from invasion. To this day, the statue has never been found.

Another legend involves a stone carved elephant that is said to come to life and roam the temple complex at night. The elephant is believed to represent a king who died before the temple was completed and now guards it at night.

Exploring the symbolism and legends surrounding Pre Rup Temple adds another layer of fascination and depth to the temple’s history and beauty.

Exploring Pre Rup Temple: Highlights and Must-See Areas

Pre Rup Temple is a marvel of ancient Khmer architecture and design, featuring a range of stunning structures and intricate carvings that are a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the Khmer Empire. Here are some of the highlights and must-see areas at Pre Rup Temple:

The Central Sanctuary

The Central Sanctuary is the main building at Pre Rup Temple, featuring a pyramid-shaped structure that is adorned with detailed carvings and intricate sculptures. Visitors can climb to the top of the structure to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area.

The Outer Wall

The outer wall of Pre Rup Temple is another highlight, with its elaborately carved panels depicting scenes from Hindu mythology and everyday life in ancient Cambodia. Visitors can spend hours admiring the intricate details of these carvings and marveling at the skill of the artisans who created them.

The Eastern Gopura

The Eastern Gopura is a monumental entranceway to Pre Rup Temple, featuring a towering gateway flanked by two stone lions. It provides a dramatic introduction to the temple complex and is a popular spot for photographs.

The Terrace of Elephants

The Terrace of Elephants is a raised platform that runs along the eastern side of Pre Rup Temple, featuring a series of intricate carvings that depict elephants, gods, and other mythological creatures. Visitors can stroll along the terrace and take in the stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

The Terrace of the Leper King

The Terrace of the Leper King is another raised platform at Pre Rup Temple, featuring a series of carvings that depict a mysterious figure known as the Leper King. The terrace also includes intricate carvings of gods, demons, and other mythological creatures.

These are just some of the highlights and must-see areas at Pre Rup Temple, but there is much more to explore and discover at this enchanting ancient site.

Pre Rup Temple: A Photographer’s Paradise

With its intricate carvings, towering spires, and stunning vistas, Pre Rup Temple is a photographer’s dream come true. The temple’s unique blend of architecture and nature makes for a truly enchanting experience, and capturing its beauty on film is a must for any visitor.

Whether you’re a professional photographer or simply looking to snap some memorable shots, there are plenty of opportunities to do so at Pre Rup Temple. Below are some tips for getting the most out of your photography experience:

Timing Is Everything

The best time to visit Pre Rup Temple for photography is early morning or late afternoon, when the light is soft and warm. The temple also tends to be less crowded during these times, allowing for more uninterrupted shots.

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Try Different Angles

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles and perspectives when photographing Pre Rup Temple. Play around with low angles, high angles, and composition to create unique and interesting shots.

Focus on the Details

Pre Rup Temple is full of intricate carvings and details that make for beautiful close-up shots. Don’t be afraid to zoom in on some of the finer details to capture the temple’s unique beauty.

Be Respectful

While photography is allowed at Pre Rup Temple, it’s important to remember to be respectful of the temple and its surroundings. Avoid climbing on any of the structures or touching any of the carvings, and be mindful of other visitors who may also be taking photos.

By following these tips and allowing yourself to be inspired by the beauty of Pre Rup Temple, you’re sure to create some stunning photographic memories that will last a lifetime.

Getting to Pre Rup Temple: Transportation and Accessibility

Located approximately 13 kilometers east of Siem Reap, Pre Rup Temple can be reached by various means of transportation. The most convenient options include hiring a tuk-tuk, taxi, or renting a bike or motorcycle. It is advisable to book transportation services through a reputable agency or hotel to ensure safety and reliability.

Visitors should note that the road leading to Pre Rup Temple is bumpy and uneven, so it is recommended to wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Additionally, the temple is situated on a raised platform accessed by steep stairs, which may present challenges for visitors with mobility disabilities. However, there are handrails to assist in climbing the stairs, and the temple’s lower levels can still be explored.

Transportation Options for Pre Rup Temple

Transportation Mode Pros Cons
Tuk-tuk Affordable, experienced drivers, good for short distances Exposed to weather and pollution, limited storage space, slow in heavy traffic
Taxi Comfortable, air-conditioned, can be pre-booked, suitable for longer distances Expensive, may be difficult to find, traffic jams can result in longer travel times
Bike/Motorcycle Flexible, cost-effective, enjoyable scenic ride, good for short to medium distances Requires a valid license, increases risk of accidents and theft, may not be suitable for all travelers

Whichever mode of transportation visitors choose, it is recommended to negotiate the fare with the driver beforehand and clarify the pickup and dropoff points.

For those who prefer to self-drive, it is important to note that Cambodian roads can be chaotic, and traffic rules are often disregarded. Visitors should exercise caution and wear a helmet when riding a bike or motorcycle.

Overall, with some preparation and careful planning, visitors can easily access Pre Rup Temple and enjoy its wonders.

Nearby Attractions and Activities

There are several other attractions and activities near Pre Rup Temple that visitors can add to their itinerary for a complete cultural experience of Cambodia. Here are some of the top recommendations:

Attraction Description
Banteay Srei An intricately carved temple made of pink sandstone, known for its well-preserved decorative work.
Angkor National Museum A modern museum showcasing the culture and history of the Khmer Empire through various multimedia displays and exhibitions.
Tonle Sap Lake The largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, known for its floating villages and diverse wildlife.
Phare, The Cambodian Circus A unique blend of circus arts and theater, featuring talented performers who use their skills to tell Cambodia’s story.

In addition to these attractions, there are also several activities that visitors can enjoy near Pre Rup Temple, such as:

  • Hot air balloon rides for panoramic views of the Angkor Archaeological Park
  • Bicycle tours to explore the surrounding countryside and local villages
  • Cooking classes to learn how to prepare traditional Khmer cuisine

With so much to see and do in the vicinity of Pre Rup Temple, visitors are sure to have a memorable and enriching experience in Cambodia.

Tips for Visiting Pre Rup Temple

If you’re planning a trip to Pre Rup Temple, here are some helpful tips to make your visit as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible.

  1. Dress appropriately: As with most temples in Cambodia, it’s important to dress modestly and respectfully. Avoid wearing shorts, sleeveless tops, and clothing that exposes too much skin. It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable, breathable clothing and shoes as the temple grounds can get hot and dusty.
  2. Bring sunscreen and a hat: The temple complex is exposed to the sun, so it’s important to protect your skin from sunburn. You may also want to bring a hat or umbrella to shield yourself from the sun.
  3. Arrive early: Pre Rup Temple can get crowded, especially during peak tourist season (November to February). To avoid the crowds and the heat, it’s best to arrive early in the morning when the temple opens at 7:30 am.
  4. Plan your visit: Pre Rup Temple is a large complex with several structures and areas to explore. It’s a good idea to plan your visit beforehand, deciding which areas you want to see and in what order. This will help you make the most of your time there.
  5. Be respectful: Remember that Pre Rup Temple is a sacred site for many Cambodians. Be respectful of the temple grounds and structures, and avoid touching or climbing on anything. Also, be mindful of other visitors and keep noise levels to a minimum.
  6. Stay hydrated: With temperatures often reaching 35°C (95°F) or higher, it’s important to stay hydrated throughout your visit. Bring a water bottle with you and take breaks in the shade when needed.
  7. Watch your step: The temple complex can be uneven and rocky in places, so it’s important to watch your step and wear appropriate footwear to avoid injury.
  8. Respect the wildlife: Pre Rup Temple is home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys and birds. While it’s tempting to get close to these creatures, it’s important to respect their space and avoid feeding them.
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By following these tips, you can make the most of your visit to Pre Rup Temple and have a memorable experience exploring this magnificent temple complex.


Visiting Pre Rup Temple is a must for anyone traveling to Cambodia. This enchanting temple not only holds significant historical and cultural value, but also boasts stunning architectural designs and intricate carvings. Exploring the temple complex is like stepping back in time to the height of the Khmer Empire, and visitors can easily spend several hours wandering the grounds and admiring the intricate details.

For photographers, Pre Rup Temple offers a wealth of opportunities to capture its beauty, from the intricate carvings to the picturesque views of the surrounding countryside. And with practical information on transportation and accessibility, as well as tips for visitors, planning a trip to Pre Rup Temple has never been easier.

So whether you’re a history buff, architecture enthusiast, or simply looking for a new adventure, be sure to add Pre Rup Temple to your itinerary the next time you visit Cambodia.


What is the history of Pre Rup Temple?

Pre Rup Temple has a rich history dating back to the 10th century. It was built as a Hindu temple under the reign of King Rajendravarman II and served as a royal crematorium. It played a significant role in the architectural development of the Khmer Empire.

What are the architectural features of Pre Rup Temple?

Pre Rup Temple showcases distinct architectural elements, including towering spires, intricate carvings, and decorative lintels. Its design combines elements of both Hindu and Khmer architecture, creating a unique and mesmerizing structure.

What symbolism and legends are associated with Pre Rup Temple?

Pre Rup Temple is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures that hold symbolic meanings. These carvings depict scenes from Hindu mythology and religious rituals. Legends also surround the temple, connecting it to ancient Khmer beliefs and traditions.

Which areas within Pre Rup Temple are must-see?

When exploring Pre Rup Temple, make sure to visit the central sanctuary with its well-preserved carvings and the upper level for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The outer galleries also offer unique architectural details worth exploring.

Is Pre Rup Temple a good location for photography?

Yes, Pre Rup Temple is a paradise for photographers. The temple’s stunning architecture, intricate carvings, and beautiful surroundings offer countless opportunities to capture breathtaking shots. It is recommended to visit during sunrise or sunset for the best lighting conditions.

How can I reach Pre Rup Temple?

Pre Rup Temple is located in Angkor Archaeological Park, near the town of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Visitors can reach the temple complex by hiring a tuk-tuk, taxi, or joining a guided tour. It is approximately a 20-minute drive from Siem Reap.

What are the nearby attractions and activities around Pre Rup Temple?

In addition to Pre Rup Temple, visitors can explore other captivating temples such as Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm. The nearby Tonle Sap Lake offers boat tours, and the town of Siem Reap is known for its vibrant markets and cultural performances.

What are some tips for visiting Pre Rup Temple?

When visiting Pre Rup Temple, remember to dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees. It is also advised to bring sun protection, as the temple complex can get hot during the day. Additionally, check the ticket prices and plan your visit during the early morning or late afternoon for fewer crowds.

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