THE second phase of the restoration work on the Ta Ong Bridge at the Angkor Archaeological Park in northwest Cambodia's Siem Reap province has been completed, the Apsara National Authority (ANA) reported in June.

Loeu Channora, an archaeologist at the ANA's Department of Conservation of Monuments and Preventive Archaeology, said the project focused on the southern part of the bridge, reinforcing its collapsed portions and restoring the dragon-styled handrailings in the length of 70 meters (m).

"During the restoration work, our team made a list of plans, conducted stone registration, repaired stones, fallen pillars and walls, as well as restored the dragon railings to their original state," he said.

"The restoration work is to preserve the architectural value, the historical value, the ancient heritage for future generations to learn about the ancient infrastructure and to understand the work of the ancestors," he added.

The ancient bridge is also an important tourist destination at Angkor, Channora said, adding that the next phase project will be focused on restoring the upper floor of the bridge, which is currently in a state of decay.

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The 800-year-old Ta Ong Bridge was dilapidated due to age, the effects of the weather and the pressure of the great weight of the structure, the ANA said.

The bridge, built from laterite rock and is decorated with a sandstone carving, is 75-m long, 13-m wide and 8-m high with 14 stone arches supporting its span.

The Angkor Archaeological Park, inscribed on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1992, is the kingdom's most popular tourist destination.

The number of international tourists to the park had gradually recovered in the first five months of 2022, thanks to Cambodia's full reopening of its borders to vaccinated travelers without quarantine since last November after most Cambodians have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The park received 45,779 foreign tourists during the January-May period this year, up 859 percent over the same period last year, according to a government report.