Sour Prat temple is located at the beginning of the road leading to the Victory Gate, in front of the Royal Palace. The temple was built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII and features a row of 12 square laterite and sandstone towers, six on one either side of the road leading to the Victory Gate.
The two towers closest to the road are set back slightly from the others. The towers have an unusual feature of windows with balusters on three sides. Entrance porches open toward the west onto the parade ground. The interior of each tower has two levels and on the upper one there is a cylindrical vault with two frontons. The frames, bays and lintels were made of sandstone.
According to a Cambodian legend, the towers served as anchoring places for ropes which stretched from one to another for acrobats performing at festivals, while the king observed the performances from one of the terraces. This activity is reflected in the name of the towers. Zhou Daguan wrote about the entirely different purpose of the towers in describing a method of settling disputes between men. Some think that they may have served as alter for each province on the occasion of taking the oath of loyalty to the king.
Twelve nearly identical laterite and sandstone towers that stand opposite and parallel to the Terrace of the Elephants. The artistic and architectural style of the towers is somewhat unique, defying easy classification and dating. Construction may have begun under Jayavarman VII, but the towers do not display the classic Bayon-style characteristics.
It has been argued that they may be post-Bayon or perhaps much earlier, as early the 11th century. The original function of the towers is a matter of debate but in the 13th century classic, "Customs of Cambodia," Chinese emissary to Angkor, Zhou Daguan, gives a romantic but dubious first hand account of their function. He wrote that the towers were used to settle legal disputes and matters of criminal justice. The belligerent parties were kept in the towers for a few days. The one to emerge in ill health was declared the loser, guilty by divine decree. Best photographed in the late afternoon.