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Shihanouk Ville

Shihanouk Ville

Unique, even among its cherished contemporaries, Bayon epitomizes the creative genius and inflated ego of Cambodia’s legendary king, Jayavarman VII. It is a place of stooped corridors, precipitous flights of stairs and , best of all, a collection of 54 Gothic-style towers decorated with 216 coldly smiling, enormous faces of Avalokiteshvara that bear more than a passing resemblance to the great king himself. These huge heads glare down from every angle, exuding power and control with a hint of humanity- this was precisely the blend required to hold sway over such a vast empire, ensuring the disparate and far-flung population yielded to his magnanimous will. As you walk around, a dozen or more of the heads are visible at any one time – full face or in profile, almost level with your eyes or staring down from up high.

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