Phimeanakas – sometimes called Vimeanakas – is a large, three-tiered pyramid of laterite and sandstone construction, and is the tallest climbable temple in Angkor Thom. The stairway on the western or back side of the temple affords the easiest way to climb to the top, from which you get a good view of the surrounding area. While lacking the impressive carvings of other Angkor structures, it remains a striking site and is well worth exploring.
The pyramid is in quite a peaceful clearing just north of the Baphuon Temple. It was built as a Hindu temple at the end of the 10th century and is uniquely inside the walls of the Royal Palace of Angkor Thom. The grounds also feature five elegant gopurams (gatehouses) as well as elevated walkways. The temple itself is closely surrounded by a moat, which makes for very good reflections on photographs.
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Legend of Phimeanakas
What may make it more interesting to some is the legend associated with it. Phimeanakas was the temple of the king, and the legend says that in the golden tower that topped the temple, there dwelled a mystical serpent that would transform itself into a woman at night. In order to protect the kingdom, and to prevent a disaster befalling the kingdom, the Angkorian kings were required to make love with the serpent every night.
Location: Royal Palace, Angkor Thom
Construction period: Late-10th to Early-11th century C.E.
Built by: King Jayavarman V
Building style: Kleang