Royal Palace Phnom Penh

The Royal Palace Phnom Penh is the official home to the King of Cambodia, built more than a century ago as his official residence. It is home to the current king and was once home to King Norodom Sihanouk, for which Sihanoukville was named. The palace and connecting Silver Pagoda are included in a walled royal compound that consists of many different buildings, gardens, pavilions, and other structures within that look over onto a scenic waterfront park.

The building of the Royal Palace Cambodia in 1866 is a relatively new event in national history when comparing it with the history of Cambodia and the Khmer overall. Built in Phnom Penh, the palace is the country’s seat of power but it only became so after centuries of Khmer power. The Khmer first held power in or around Angkor just north of Tonle Sap Lake beginning in 802AD. This lasted until the early part of the 15thcentury when the Khmer moved court from Angkor to Phnom Penh in between 1434 and 1446 (the specific year is widely argued) and remained there for several decades.

Shortly after this period, the Khmer moved court again several times; on to Basan, then to Lovek, and finally on to Oudong. Phnom Penh became the capital once more later on in the 19thcentury - there is nothing to show any sort of palace in the city prior to this date. Following the French Protectorate in 1863, the capital moved from Oudong to Phnom Penh and the Royal Palace was built.

Cambodian Royal Palace
Cambodian Royal Palace

Approaching the compound, the towering wall and Chanchhaya Pavilion, marked by golden spires, stand perfectly against the waterfront skyline. The grounds remain hushed, protected from the noise of the surrounding streets by the walls. A look around reveals several palace buildings standing distinctively like mystical islets rising above the tropical, manicured courtyard and lush gardens.

Norodom Statue
Norodom Statue

The majority of palace buildings, including the Silver Pagoda, are open to the public with the exception of the king’s residence. Preah Tineang Tevea Vinicchay, or the Throne Room, is the second building to be constructed on the grounds and is where the newest king was inaugurated. It’s used for coronations and other such special occasions. The King addresses the people, welcomes Royal dancers, and hosts banquets at Chanchhaya Pavilion. Hor Samran Phirun holds the king’s regalia, accessories for official processions, and is considered a rest house for royals. Other buildings part of the Royal Palace Phnom Penh complex include Hor Samrith Phimean, Napoleon III Pavilion (originally built in Egypt in 1869 for Napolean’s wife, it was dismantled,  sent as a gift to the king and reassembled at the Royal Palace), Phochani Pavilion, and Damnak Chan, home to the royal administrative offices. Khemarin Palace is the royal home and Kantha Bopha is the official guesthouse. Lastly and most beautiful is the Silver Pagoda.

Phnom Penh Palace
Phnom Penh Palace

The Royal Palace Phnom Penh entry gate is located off Sothearos Boulevard just a quick walk north of Street 240. Tours via palace guides are highly recommended to get the most out of exploring and understanding the history, architecture, and purpose of each building and how they relate to one another. Admission is inexpensive at just a few dollars. An added few dollars is charged if bringing along a still or video camera. Tourists are permitted between the hours of 7:30am and 11:00am and again between 2:00pm and 5:00pm. During an official functions held at the palace, the grounds are closed. Be sure to visit the National Museum next door and to take a look around the bustling riverfront.

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