The Khmer-style Throne Hall was built in 1866, to serve as the residence of the King of Cambodia, his family and foreign dignitaries, as a venue for the performance of court ceremonies and rituals and as a symbol of the Kingdom. South of the Throne Hall are the Royal Treasury and the Villa of Napoleon III, built in Egypt in 1866, for the opening of the Suez Canal, and was later presented to the Cambodian king as a gift.
Within the Royal Palace compound is the extravagant Silver Pagoda, the floor of which is covered with five tons of gleaming silver. You can sneak a peek at some of the 5000 tiles near the entrance – most are covered to protect them. Rivalling the floor, an extraordinary Baccarat-crystal Buddha sits atop an impressive gilded pedestal. Adding to the lavish mix is a life-sized solid-gold Buddha, which weighs 90kg and is adorned with 2086 diamonds, the largest weighing in at 25 carats.
The staircase leading to the Silver Pagoda is made of Italian marble. Inside, the Emerald Buddha, said to be made of Baccarat crystal, sits on a gilt pedestal high atop the dais. In front of the dais stands a life-sized gold Buddha decorated with 9584 diamonds, the largest of which weighs 25 carats.
Phnom Penh Royal Palace
The most revered image is the Emerald Buddha, made of Baccarat crystal and dating back to the 17th century. Behind it, another Buddha statue was cast in 1906, utilizing 90 kg of gold, and decorated with 9,584 diamonds. Cabinets along the perimeter contain gifts presented to royalty and dignitaries. Along the inside of the recently restored 600-metre external wall is a colourful mural depicting scenes from the Reamker, the Khmer version of the Ramayana.
The settling of the Royal Palace at Phnom Penh was a comparatively recent event in the history of the Khmer and Cambodia. Historically speaking, the seat of Khmer power in the region was near Angkor, north of the Great Tonle Sap Lake from 802 AD until the early 15th century. After the Khmer court moved from Angkor in the 15th century, it first settled in Phnom Penh in 1434 and stayed for several decades and by 1494 it had moved on to Basan, and later Lovek and then Oudong.