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One of the first Western visitors to the temple was António da Madalena, a Portuguese friar who visited in 1586 and said that it "is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world.
It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of."By the 17th century, Angkor Wat was not completely abandoned and functioned as a Buddhist temple.
Some architects have written that it is 'correct' for the construction to be facing to the west.
In temple orientations for the Greek and Etruscan context, west is associated with "right" and the "underworld" to suggest a religious connection of the building.
Now a modest player on the world stage, this was once the seat of one of Asia’s most magnificent early civilizations, the mighty Khmer empire of Angkor, whose legendary temples continue to provide a touchstone of national identity – as well as attracting millions of visitors every year.
Angkor Wat lies 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) north of the modern town of Siem Reap, and a short distance south and slightly east of the previous capital, which was centred at Baphuon.
The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century, during the reign of Suryavarman II (ruled 1113 – c. Dedicated to Vishnu, it was built as the king's state temple and capital city.