A Change of Guard

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Thursday, 12 May 2016

Cambodia seeking world heritage status for 7th century temple

Cambodia seeking world heritage status for 7th century temple
Xinhua News Agency | Thu,2016-05-12 

KAMPONG THOM, Cambodia, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia will request the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to inscribe the 7th century Sambor Prei Kuk Temple site on its prestigious World Heritage List, an official said.

Built by King Isanavarman I, Sambor Prei Kuk is one of the most important religious centers of the pre-Angkorian era and is located in a quiet patch of forest in central Kampong Thom province, about 168 km north of the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

The ancient site has more than 280 monuments, which were made from solid brick, laterite and sandstone and decorated by bas-reliefs.

Due to its old age in combination with decades of war, some of the monuments had been destroyed almost completely.

Seng An, director of Tourism Department in Kampong Thom province, said the site has gradually become popular among foreign tourists in recent years thanks to political stability, security and convenient access.

"Tourists have shown their impressions with the site because it was built before the Angkorian era," he told Xinhua in a recent interview. "The site has more than 200 monuments classified into three groups."

The site welcomed more than 17,500 foreign visitors in 2015, he added.

According to the official, in a bid to protect and preserve the site, the Cambodian government has already prepared documents to request the UNESCO to include it in the World Heritage List.
Tourists hailed the government's efforts to seek world heritage status for the site.

"I'm sure that it's a wonderful thing to do to preserve them, and if we get the help of the UNESCO and have it listed as a world heritage that would be a very good thing to do," said an Australian tourist, who identified herself as Helen.

"It is very upsetting to see that they'd been damaged due to war, but I think if they're protected it is a wonderful legacy, civilization to know, you know what happened so many centuries ago, " she said.

Another Australian tourist Peter Reilly said, "I think that they should be preserved and it's very good to hear that the Cambodian government is taking step to preserve them... I think they should be preserved, and that's an excellent move to have them listed because they are obviously not only unique for Cambodia, but also unique for the world."

Cambodia currently has two tangible cultural properties inscribed on the UNESCO's World Heritage list. One is the 12th century Angkor Wat Temple listed in 1992 and the other is the 11th century Preah Vihear Temple included in 2008. Enditem 

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