Kleangs & Prasat Suor Prat

Archaeological Site in Angkor Thom

Along the eastern side of Central Square are two groups of buildings, called Kleangs. The North Kleang, dated from the period of Jayavarman V, and the South Kleang may at one time have been palaces. Along Central Square in front of the two Kleangs are 12 laterite towers – 10 in a row and two more at right angles facing the Ave of Victory – known as the Prasat Suor Prat, meaning ‘Temple of the Tightrope Dancers’.

Archaeologists believe the towers, which form an honour guard, were constructed by Jayavarman VII. It is likely that each one originally contained either a linga or a statue. It is said artists performed for the king on tightropes or rope bridges strung between these towers, hence the name.

According to 13th-century Chinese emissary Chou Ta-Kuan, the towers of Prasat Suor Prat were also used for public trials of sorts. During a dispute the two parties would be made to sit inside two towers, one party eventually succumbing to illness and proven guilty.