Constructed in 1962 by former King Sihanouk to replace the wooden pagoda built by his grandfather in 1902, the Silver Pagoda is so named because of its 5329 silver floor tiles, each around 20cm square and weighing more than 1kg. It’s also known as Wat Preah Keo Morokot, the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha, after the green Baccarat crystal Buddha within. The pagoda itself is clearly influenced by Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaeo, also home to a precious crystal Buddha to which the one in Phnom Penh bears an uncanny resemblance. Although more than half its contents were stolen during the Khmer Rouge years, the pagoda itself survived pretty much unscathed, and was used to demonstrate to the few international visitors that the regime was caring for Cambodia’s cultural history. A rich collection of artefacts and Buddha images remains, making the pagoda more a museum than place of worship.
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