One of Cambodia’s most remote Angkorian sites, 125km northeast of Siem Reap, KOH KER was briefly capital of the Khmer Empire in the tenth century, when Jayavarman IV – who was already ruler of his own state here when he ascended the imperial throne – decided not to relocate to Angkor, but decreed instead that the court should come to him, ordering the construction of a road linking Koh Ker and Angkor, on which the temples of Beng Mealea and Banteay Samre were later built.
Now practically engulfed by jungle, the ruins of Koh Ker have been heavily looted and badly neglected, but plenty remains, including more than forty major monuments spread across eighty square kilometres – although only a small proportion are open to visitors, and much of the area has yet to be completely de-mined. Mines still present a serious danger. Do not on any account stray from well-trodden paths.
Koh Ker is famous for its distinctive style of monumental sculpture, although most pieces have either been looted or removed for safekeeping to the country’s various museums.