Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spean Praptos

A view of Spean Praptos from the west
The east section of the bridge showing the corbel arch and the embankment faced with laterite blocks to deter slippage
The best example of a laterite Angkorean bridge in Cambodia can be found at Kompong Kdei, on the route between Kompong Thom and Siem Reap. Its called Spean Praptos and I never tire of visiting it. It also happens to be the longest corbelled stone-arch bridge in the world and is called Phra Phutthos by the folks at UNESCO. Now that the main highway has been diverted, it only sees light motorized traffic these days and should survive for many years to come. I wasn't aware until recently that the French restored it between 1964-7 but they made a good job of it and the bridge now resembles how it must've looked in its heyday. It was one of the many construction projects completed during the reign of King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century, as he built temples, royal roads, monumental bridges and rest houses across his kingdom. Spean Praptos spans the Chikreng River at a length of 87 metres, is 17 metres wide and has 21 corbel arches, topped by a Naga balustrade of sandstone, with multi-headed serpents at the end of each balustrade. If you've never seen it for yourself, make sure you take a few minutes when travelling along Route 6 to marvel at this feat of Khmer engineering. I nearly forgot to mention, there are another nine laterite bridges, considerably smaller but of the same era, located between Kompong Kdei and Siem Reap. Keep your eyes open for them when travelling along the highway.

The north-west Naga on Spean Praptos with multi-heads. There are 4 Naga heads like this.

A guardian figure on a boundary stone that marks the walkway at the side of the road that spans the bridge

A gormless tourist who got in the way of my photo - oh so predictable!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful pictures, thank you for sharing.