|Completed||the mid-11th century|
Built in the mid-11th century, it is a three-tiered temple mountain:103 built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II:103 dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is the archetype of the Baphuon style with intricate carvings covering every available surface. The temple adjoins the southern enclosure of the royal palace and measures 120 metres east-west by 100 metres north-south at its base and stands 34 meters tall without its tower, which would have made it roughly 50 meters tall. Its appearance apparently impressed Temür Khan's late 13th century envoy Zhou Daguan during his visit from 1296 to 1297, who said it was 'the Tower of Bronze...a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base.'
In the late 15th century, the Baphuon was converted to a Buddhist temple. A 9-meter tall by 70 meter long statue of a reclining Buddha was built on the west side's second level, which probably required the demolition of the 8-meter tower above to supply stones for the statue, thus explaining its current absence. The temple was built on land filled with sand, and due to its immense size the site was unstable throughout its history. Large portions had probably already collapsed by the time the Buddha was added.
Surrounded by a wall 125 by 425 m the central tower was probably gilded wood, which has not survived.:376
By the 20th century, much of the temple had largely collapsed, and restoration efforts took on an epic quality. A large-scale project to dismantle the temple so that its core could be re-enforced before the whole is re-constructed again—a process known as anastylosis—was abandoned after civil war broke out in 1970. The workers and archaeologists were forced to leave 300,000 carefully labelled and numbered blocks organized across 10 hectares surrounding the temple. However, the plans identifying the pieces were lost during the decade of conflict and the Khmer Rouge that followed.
A second project to restore the temple was launched in 1996 under the guidance of architect Pascal Royère from the EFEO. It took the team another 16 years to complete what had become known as the "largest 3D jigsaw puzzle in the world". In April 2011, after 51 years of work, the restoration was completed and the temple formally re-opened. King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia and Prime Minister Francois Fillon of France were among those who first toured the renovated temple during the inauguration ceremony on July 3, 2011.
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