A moat and three galleries encircle the five central shrines. From the west one approaches the first outer gallery over a long bridge over the moat.
The first gallery has square pillars on the outer side and a closed wall on the inner side. The ceiling between the pillars is decorated with lotus rosettes; the closed wall is decorated with dancing figures. On the outside the inner wall is decorated with pillared windows, apsaras (heavenly nymphs), and dancing male figures on prancing animals. Apsaras are found on the walls of all galleries. From the first gallery a long avenue leads to the second gallery. This is reached via a raised platform with lions on both sides of a staircase. The inner walls of the second gallery contain continuous narrative relief. The western wall shows scenes from the Mahabharata epos. The third gallery encloses the five shrines which are built on a raised terrace and are interconnected by galleries. The roofings of the galleries are decorated with the motif of the body of a snake ending in the heads of lions or garudas. Sculptured lintels and frontons decorate the entrances to the galleries and the entrances to the shrines.
The western exterior forecourt of the main temple boasts two "libraries", or smaller temple structures: as at 2003, the library on the left was under renovation by a Japanese archeological team.
The surrounding area outside of the exterior moat is a lawned park, incongruous in Cambodia.
Buddhist monks are daily visitors to Angkor Wat, and their orange robes are a bright contrast to the stone grey of the temple.\n