The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are Phnom Penh’s most iconic buildings, their roofs adorned with soaring golden nagas and spires that glint enticingly against the sky. Built in traditional Khmer style, the crenellated wall that encases this complex of royal buildings, manicured gardens and relic-stuffed temples is painted pale yellow and white, the two colours representing respectively the Buddhist and Hindu faiths. Nothing now exists of King Ponhea Yat’s palace, built here in 1434, and very little remains of the wooden palace of King Norodom – the great-great-grandfather of the current king, who moved his capital here from Oudong in 1863. Indeed, the current Royal Palace, official residence of King Sihamoni, dates back less than a hundred years, with most of the buildings having been reconstructed in concrete in the early twentieth century. Even so, the complex is well worth a visit for its classic Khmer architecture, its ornate gilding and its tranquil French-style landscaped gardens. The Silver Pagoda – ringed by a mythological muralled wall – is a particular highlight for its elaborate silver-tiled floor and priceless Buddha statues.

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