Elephant - Antique Khmer Style Mounted Bronze Bayon Style Elephant Statue - 37cm/15" Tall

Exploring the Terrace of the Elephants at Angkor Thom: A Majestic Relic of the Khmer Empire

Nestled in the heart of Cambodia, the Terrace of the Elephants stands as a testament to the grandeur and artistic brilliance of the Khmer Empire.

Located within the ancient city of Angkor Thom, this 350-meter-long platform is a marvel of history and architecture, offering a glimpse into the ceremonial splendor of the 12th century.

A Historical Overview

The Terrace of the Elephants was constructed during the reign of King Jayavarman VII, one of the most powerful and revered rulers of the Khmer Empire. Jayavarman VII is celebrated for his extensive building projects, which include the famous Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm. The terrace was built as a grandstand for public ceremonies, and it was from here that the king would watch his victorious returning army.

The terrace is part of the larger complex of Angkor Thom, which served as the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer Empire. Angkor Thom itself is a testament to the zenith of Khmer architectural ingenuity and urban planning, encompassing iconic structures like the Bayon Temple with its enigmatic faces and the formidable city gates.

Architectural Marvels

The Terrace of the Elephants derives its name from the intricate carvings of elephants that adorn its walls. These carvings are not just decorative; they tell stories of the empire’s might and the importance of elephants in Khmer culture. Elephants were symbols of strength and power, used in both warfare and ceremonial processions.

The terrace is divided into three main sections, each showcasing different sets of bas-reliefs. The central section is the most elaborate, featuring life-sized garuda (mythical bird-like creatures), lions, and, of course, elephants. These reliefs are incredibly detailed, depicting elephants with their mahouts (riders), warriors, and scenes of hunting and festivities.

The north and south sections are equally fascinating, with the northern section displaying a parade of horses and the southern section adorned with more mythical creatures and warriors. The carvings are not only a display of artistic skill but also provide insights into the cultural and religious beliefs of the time.

Bayon Elephant

The Significance of the Terrace

The Terrace of the Elephants was more than just a viewing platform; it was a stage for the demonstration of royal power and divine authority. During public ceremonies, the terrace would have been draped with luxurious fabrics and adorned with flowers, creating a grand spectacle for the citizens of Angkor Thom. It was a place where the king could be seen and revered by his people, reinforcing the social and political order of the empire.

The terrace also served a practical purpose in the administration of the kingdom. It was a central point for the organization of large-scale public events, including military parades, royal receptions, and religious festivals. The ability to gather and address large crowds from this elevated platform was a crucial aspect of maintaining control and unity within the empire.

Visiting the Terrace Today

Today, the Terrace of the Elephants is one of the must-visit sites within the Angkor Archaeological Park. Walking along the terrace, visitors can marvel at the detailed carvings and imagine the grandeur of the ceremonies that once took place here. The terrace offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area, including the vast grounds where the royal audience would have gathered.

For modern-day visitors, the terrace is not only a window into the past but also a place to reflect on the incredible achievements of the Khmer civilization. The combination of architectural elegance and historical significance makes the Terrace of the Elephants a highlight of any trip to Angkor Thom.

Preserving the Legacy

Preservation efforts are ongoing to protect and restore the Terrace of the Elephants and other structures within Angkor Thom. The site has faced challenges due to natural wear and tear, as well as damage from past conflicts. International cooperation, particularly through UNESCO, has been instrumental in ensuring that this and other historical treasures of Cambodia are maintained for future generations to appreciate.



The Terrace of the Elephants at Angkor Thom is more than just an architectural marvel; it is a symbol of the Khmer Empire's grandeur and sophistication. It stands as a poignant reminder of the empire's rich history and the remarkable achievements of its people.

As visitors walk along this ancient terrace, they are not only witnessing a piece of history but also connecting with the cultural legacy of one of the most influential civilizations in Southeast Asia.

Exploring the Terrace of the Elephants is a journey back in time, offering a unique perspective on the past while inspiring awe and admiration for the artistry and ingenuity of the Khmer Empire. Whether you are a history enthusiast, an art lover, or a curious traveler, the Terrace of the Elephants promises an unforgettable experience.