Phnom Penh

It is the largest and also the capital of Cambodia whose origins are based upon an interesting legendary tale of a wealthy widow Dauhn Penh. Legend has it that it is she who found four statues of Buddha in the hollow trunk of a tree she had meant to use for construction. Stunned by her findings, she ordered an artificial hill to be erected and on top a temple was built to house the sacred relics. With time people settled around the hill and later the city came to life.

To date the Wat Phnom still remains the highest artificial hill in Phnom and a center for many forms of religious activities. It is hence a place of deep spiritual practices and with a lot to intrigue you, from history to culture and architecture.

THE ROYAL PALACE

The Royal Palace is a complex of buildings which have gilded roofs with stupas and curved spires which represent the beautiful classic Khmer architecture. The buildings are enclosed within high walls that keep the noise from the streets away. Though you may not access the royal abode, you can visit Emerald Temple, in here you will find the solid gold Buddha cast from 90 kilograms of gold and adorned in 9,584 diamonds and the other one made of baccarat crystals. Within the perimeter of the palace buildings is the Silver Pagoda which draws its name from the 5,000 pieces of silver tiles that pave its floors , the pagoda contains precious gifts to the Cambodian king.

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM

Just near the Royal Palace you will find the National Museum which has been recently restored to its former glory as one of the finest examples of the Khmer architecture. The museum will help you understand the history and culture of the Khmer Empire with over five thousand artifacts and other objects from the 6th to the 13th centuries. They include sandstone sculptures, royal barges, palanquins and intricately woven silk with silver and gold. Not to miss are the intriguing spiritual images curved from wood, silver and bronze.

TUOL SLENG AND KILLING FIELD

The history of Phnom Pehn has not always been rosy with golden and silver statues but has a dark side that is dominated by an appalling reign of terror in the recent past of Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. The cities were emptied of people who were taken to the countryside and forced to work as peasants whilst Tuol Sleng a former high school was turned into a torture prison for both children and adults. Thousands of children, men and women were brutally tortured here and only about eight of them survived. The rest of the bodies were taken to Choeung Ek which is a mass grave just outside the city. Hundreds of faces of children detained and tortured here line up the walls of this school as the rest of the place looks as it did during the reign of terror. The sites are very distressing but it is a place to learn about the tragic past of Cambodia as it marches on to a more glorious future.

Phnom Penh

Listings