Banteay Prei

"The forest citadel"

Date late 12th - early 13th century
King Jayavarman VII
(posthumous name: Maha paramasangata pada)
Cult Buddhist
Clearing H. Mauger in 1934

One hundred and fifty metres north of Prasat Prei, an opening in what is left of the external laterite enclosure wall of Banteay Prei gives access to the remains of a terrace, bordered by naga-balustrades, crossing a moat.

A small and low sandstone gopura, covered in a crossing of vaults, presents all the characteristics of the Bayon style. It divides the laterite wall of the 75 by 65 metre second enclosure to the east. Further on, a 30 by 25 metre sandstone gallery surrounds the internal court. Its four gopuras - still in the same style - form towers with a single upper tier and a crowning motif. They are flanked by secondary doors, while the corners are marked by small low pavilions. The gallery vault has a short span and is particularly shallow. The walls, in terms of decoration, are restrained.

Only half of the central sanctuary superstructure, with its four upper tiers, remains standing. Cruciform in plan it has four vestibules which are increased in width externally by the presence of false half-vaults to either side. The cruciform sanctuary chamber is 1m.90 across at its centre and open to the four cardinal points. The frontons have been defaced and the false windows here have balusters without blinds.

In the south-west quarter of the courtyard stands one of the isolated standing pillars with a top tenon, such as one finds in most temples of this period. In the south-east corner, where the "library" would normally be found, a small rectangular pit has been excavated and lined with laterite. Its function remains a mystery.