Angkor Thom lies on the west bank of the Siem Reap River, a tributary of Tonle Sap, about a quarter of a mile from the river. Angkor Thom was established as the capital of Khmer Empire during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. It was the center of his massive building program. An inscription found in the city refers to Jayavarman VII as the groom and the city as his bride.
Within the city was a system of canals, through which water flowed from the northeast to the southwest. The bulk of the land enclosed by the walls would have been occupied by the secular buildings of the city, of which nothing remains. This area is now covered by forest.
5 gates of Angkor Thom
Angkor Thom consists of 5 gates: South Gate, East Gate, Victory Gate, North Gate and West Gate. Originally, there were only 4 gates but the Victory Gate was added later to east part as well.
South Gate can be simply called “Tonle Oum Gate”. You may have a Gondola boat ride in the river in front of it. It is the nearest and main gateway to enter Angkor Thom if you travel from Siem Reap city.
East Gate is simply called “Death Gate” or “Ghost Gate”. The Ghost Gate was used after the king and his soldiers lost the battle and is the gateway to carry the dead bodies back home. Nowadays, this gates is blocked by the dense jungle. But you may visit it and you will feel that it is very unique.
Victory Gate is located at the east part of the wall but it is called Victory Gate because the king and his soldiers used this gate for only when he won the battle in contrary to Ghost Gate. It is the gateway to extend your visit to other temples in the small circuit.
There is another name for North Gate. That name is “Dey Chhnang Gate”. The name means “pottery soil”. The elder people said that it was the region that produce the best soil for pottery. But actually, it was only used by the king. It is the gateway between Angkor small circuit and Angkor grand circuit.
The west gate is not as popular as the other gates and there is not historical note about it. It is simply called “Ta Kau Gate’. West Gate is the direct and nearest gateway to West Baray.