12th Anniversary of Preah Vihear Temple as UNESCO World Heritage Site

July 7, 2020 marks the 12th anniversary since Preah Vihear Temple became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Photo: PM's Facebook page.
  • Phoung Vantha
  • July 7, 2020 9:27 AM

UNESCO’s representative in Cambodia explains how the temple has been preserved over the centuries.

PHNOM PENH--Cambodia on Tuesday (July 7) celebrated the 12th anniversary of Preah Vihear being recognized as UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Prime Minister Hun Sen said he considered the July 7, 2008 recognition a historical event, following the International Court of Justice ruled in Cambodia’s favor in a dispute with Thailand over the ownership of Preah Vihear on June 15, 1962.

Hun Sen took to his official Facebook page to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the temple becoming a heritages site, posting a video highlighting the beauty of the centuries-old archaeological site.

Built over the course of 300 years and finally completed in the 12th century, Preah Vihear Temple was listed as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008, during the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee held in Quebec, Canada. 

The Temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and is built on the border of Preah Vihear province, some 400 kilometers from Phnom Penh and designed to mark the edge of Cambodian territory. The intricate stone site has maintained the quality of its architecture under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Art and is widely hailed as a masterpiece of Khmer art.

“In addition to financial assistance provided by UNESCO and the World Heritage Fund 2013-2016 to the National Authority for Preah Vihear for the consolidation and improvement of structural stability of the monument, the Preah Vihear site has received technical assistance support from the international community for the safeguarding and development of the Site, under the aegis of a prestigious international Committee (ICC-Preah Vihear) set up based on the model of Angkor becoming an international source of reference,” said Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO’s representative in Cambodia.

“Under the co-presidency of China and India, the [ICC-Preah Vihear] is supported by seven founding members including Belgium, Cambodia, France, Japan, Republic of Korea, Thailand and United States of America,” he added.

The committee meets twice a year to ensure that the Preah Vihear site receives the finest care from international experts in structural stability, conservation, archaeology and management, according to Alam.

“In addition to conservation and restoration works, with the necessary development, mostly based on tourism, the National Authority for Preah Vihear also takes into serious consideration community development and the promotion of the ecosystem at the site to harmonize the temple, nature and people,” he concluded.

Meanwhile the Sambor Prei Kuk Temple complex, a group of ancient Khmer temples in Kampong Thom province, became a new World Heritage Site on July 8, 2017 during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee held in Krakow, Poland. 

The archaeological site of Sambor Prei Kuk, situated in Sambo village, Sambo commune, Prasat Sambo district, Kampong Thom province, encompasses 3,000 hectare land surface in the forest situated about 30 kilometers from Kampong Thom provincial town.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts spokesman Long Bunna Sireyvath could not be reached for comment on the Sambor Prei Kuk complext at press time. 


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