Prasat Prei Monti (also spelt Prey Monti or Preimonti) is a group of three brick towers situated 2 km south of the temple-pyramid Bakong in Roluos. 300 m west of the Bakong there is a signboard indicating the correct route to Prei Monti to the south.
The three Prasats of Prei Monti are located in the east of a rectangular compound, which once was surrounded by a moat. In this respect it appears similar to the Preah Ko shrine of Roluos: a sanctuary close to the eastern edge of a much larger area. In both rectangles only traces of other constructions were unearthed.
Both compounds seem to have been royal palaces, with a sanctuary built of non-perishable material at the entrance from the east. Remarkably the two santuaries of these two similar compounds are located on the same north-south axis, it runs parallel to another axis which without doubt is of highly symbolic significance, namely the north-south-line connecting the Bakong state temple and the Lolei shrine in the centre of Indravarman's vast reservoir called Indratataka. The more secular palace axis of Preah Ko and Prei Monti is only about a hundred metred further west.
Khmer palaces were built of perishable materials such as wood and bamboo, this is why nothing remains of them, but pieces of ceramics from the contemporary Chinese Tang dynastie were found in this area, typical luxury goods. Similar to Preah Ko, the temple sanctuary built of stone is located inside the palace enclosure, but close to its eastern edge.
Prei Monti is older than Preah Ko and the other two major monuments of the Roluos Group, Bakong and Lolei. Preah Ko was the palace and ancestor temple of Indravarman I who is the first king of the Angkor era, well-known from own epigraphical records and maybe the first ruler of more than a regional Khmer principality.
He succeded Jayavarman III, who was childless. Sometimes Prasat Prei Monti is ascribed to this king, Jayavarman III, of whom not much is known. Others believe Prei Monti to be the first palace of Indravarman. However, Prei Monti is one of the first monuments from the dawning Angkor era.
Prasat Prei Monti's three brick towers are open to the east and share a single platform. They are more stocky and less elegant than those of the later Preah Ko. But as in the case of Preah Ko, the Prasats are made of brickstone, with sandstone doors from the east and blind doors at the three other sides.
The central tower is almost completely collapsed, but its sandstone lintel can be studied on the ground slightly to the east. It is much less elaborate than the famous lintel carvings at Preah Ko, but it already marks a transition from a pre-Angkorian division of the panel by a line of medaillons to the more unified classical style of a bent garland.
All in all, there is not as much to see at Prasat Prei Monti as at the Preah Ko temple. But it is a silent place, where the rare visitor can explore the beginnings of Angkor architecture without disturbances.
The morning is a good time to visit Prei Monti. A ticket is not required at this remote small structure.