Bayon Temple (Constructed: Late 12th century, King/Patron: Jayavarman VII, Religion: Buddhist)

The giant stone faces of Bayon have become one of the most recognizable images connected to classic Khmer art and architecture. There are 37 standing towers, most but not all sporting four carved faces oriented toward the cardinal points. Who the faces represent is a matter of debate but they may be Loksvara, Mahayana Buddhism’s compassionate Bodhisattava, or perhaps a combination of Buddha and Jayavarman VII.

Bayon was the Jayavarman VII’s state-temples and in many ways represents the pinnacle of his massive building campaign. It appears to be, and is to some degree, an architectural muddle, in part because it was constructed in a somewhat piecemeal fashion for over a century.