Around Phnom Penh

Around Phnom Penh


Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

Built by King Norodom in 1866, the Royal Palace has since served as the residence of Cambodian royalty (with the exception of the years of Khmer Rouge occupation). The palace buildings in the complex feature a mix of classic Khmer and European-style architecture, and include among them the Throne Hall (used for coronations and official meetings), the Chan Chaya Pavilion (built for performances by the Royal Dancers), and the Khemarin Palace (the royal residence). Next to the Royal Palace sits the Silver Pagoda, wherein royal ceremonies and the King’s meetings with monks are held. The Pagoda is named for its floor of solid silver tiles, and it houses among other artifacts, the “Emerald Buddha.”

(Sothearos between Streets 240 and 184)

Independence Monument

A regular center of activity for national ceremonies in Cambodia, the Independence Monument is located at the intersection of Norodom Boulevard and Sihanouk Boulevard in central Phnom Penh.

The monument is a classic example of modern Cambodian architecture designed by the renowned Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann. The design uses elements from historical Khmer architecture as seen in the temples at Angkor Wat.

(Intersection of Norodom Boulevard and Sihanouk Boulevard)

National Museum

Located next to the Royal Palace, and situated in a traditionally-designed terracotta building, the National Museum of Cambodia is home to 14,000 pieces of Khmer art, dating from prehistoric times to the post-Angkorian period. With one of the world’s largest collections of Khmer cultural works, the museum has on exhibition close to 2,000 Khmer artifacts, sculptures, ceramics, and other ethnographic and artistic works. The National Museum is bordered by Street 178, which features many local galleries and souvenir shops.

(Street 178 and Street 13)

Olympic Stadium

Built in 1964, and designed by the renowned Vann Molyvann, the Olympic Stadium is a magnificent piece of architectural work, fusing together both traditional Khmer forms and modern design. The 60,000 seat stadium has historically been the location of a speech by French President Charles de Gaulle (1966) and the GANEFO Games (1966). Today, hundreds of Phnom Penh residents use the stadium space for activities and sports such as outdoor aerobics, football, and basketball.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Formerly Tuol Svay Prey High School, Tuol Sleng was occupied by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979 and converted to Security Prison 21 (S-21), the largest detention and torture center in Cambodia. An estimated 17,000 to 20,000 people were processed through the prison, where they were systematically tortured for the purpose of extracting confessions (they were later taken to the killing fields of Choeung Ek for execution). Today, the compound is preserved as a museum and memorial, and houses many of the prisoner photographs and records kept by the Khmer Rouge during their occupation.

(Corner of Street 115 and Street 350)

Wat Phnom

Legend has it that Wat Phnom is the namesake of Cambodia’s capital city—the location where, in the 13th century, Lady Penh built a hilltop temple to house four Buddha statues she fished from the Mekong River. Today, the Wat features an active pagoda where many locals go to pray, a stupa with the ashes of King Ponhea Yat, and an alter to Lady Penh herself.

(Intersection of Street 96 and Norodom Blvd.)

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