The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is nowhere near as ancient as the temples of Angkor or even the medieval castles of Europe; but it’s bold colors, shapes and decor give it an attraction all it’s own…especially if you’ve got a camera!
Walking along the riverfront in Cambodia’s capital city, the bold shapes and colors of the Royal Palace are hard to miss. Lomographers visiting Phnom Penh should not miss the opportunity to tour the palace and take a closer look.
Located along Sothearos Boulevard between streets 240 and 184 at a spot where four divisions of the mighty Mekong meet, the palace has been the residence of the Kings of Cambodia since it was built in 1866; the same year Phnom Penh became the capital of Cambodia.
The Chan Chhaya Pavilion is usually the first part of the palace noticed by visitors to Phnom Penh because it stands along a large central section of the palace’s front wall. The pavilion is used as a stage for classical Khmer dance performances and also as a platform for viewing parades along Sothearos Blvd.
The rest of the palace is separated from the tumult of the city’s traffic by a high yellow crenellated wall. Inside, the palace complex is divided into three main areas: the Silver Pagoda, the Throne Hall and the Khemarin Palace.
The Silver Pagoda, on the south side of the complex, is named for the more than 5,000 silver tiles with which its interior floor is paved. Rugs now cover most of the tiles in order to preserve them from the feet of the temple’s visitors, but glimpses of the tiles can be seen near the entry doors and around some of the display cases. Photography is not allowed inside (this rule applies to the interiors of all the palace’s buildings), but the pagoda’s distinctly Southeast Asian architecture, magnificent columns and Italian marble on the exterior provide opportunities from some artistic shots.
The Throne Hall is used today for religious and royal ceremonies. In the past, the hall was where the King’s court once carried on its business. The Throne Hall is built in the shape of a cross with three spires on top. The tallest spire is 59 meters and is topped with a four-faced head of Brahma.
The Khemarin Palace is used as a residence of the King. A wall separates it from the rest of the palace complex. When the King is in residence at the Khemarin Palace, the flag of the royal family is flown from the flagpole in front of the building.
Also within the palace walls are ornately manicured gardens including some topiary animals. The colors, textures and shapes found in the Royal Palace make it a great place to visit with your camera and learn a little about Cambodian history as well.
The palace is open to visitors every day 7:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 – 5 p.m. Entrance fee is US $3/person and an additional US $2 to take a camera.