July 26, 2011

Architectural Amazement in Compelling Cambodia


The capital and the largest city in Cambodia, Phnom Penh is located along the banks of the Mekong River. For so long, Phnom Penh has remained the center of security, politics, economics and cultural heritage of Cambodia. This wonderful city is noted amongst travelers for its beautiful architectural attractions which are teeming with history and charm. Phnom Penh is also known as the loveliest French-built city in all of Indochina. Founded in 1434, Phnom Penh has its own dialect of Khmer, the language of Cambodia and the city is home to many architectural wonders like Wat Phnom, The National Museum and the Royal Palace.

Speaking in the sense of architecture, Phnom Penh is a new city. It was the royal capital from 1432 to 1505; however it was abandoned for 360 years due to conflict and war. Almost every structure that exists today in the city was built during the French colonial period, 1863 onwards. The city is dotted with Chinese "shop-house" style buildings, dominating the architecture types. There are also old European influenced colonial period structures to be found. At the peak of the colonial period, Phnom Penh was regarded wonderfully elegant with its well manicured parks and gardens and domineering, ornate villas and picturesque boulevards alight with colour.

The architecture in Phnom Penh can be divided into three main categories. Firstly, the most prominent, the Chinese shop-house style buildings. These structures and two storied, with the ground level serving as a business outlet or shop while the top level served as the living quarters of the shop owner and his family. The second category of Phnom Penh architecture is the French colonial style. These buildings encompass a large range of styles and themes. Most of the structures are intricate and ornate and they also drew heavily upon traditional Cambodian styles of architecture. Lastly, there is new Khmer architecture; buildings from the 1950s and 60s come under this category, but very few examples of this style of architecture exist nowadays in the city center. New Khmer architecture came into light after Cambodia's independence in 1953.

In addition, there are many sites of architectural interest in Phnom Penh and there are tours available to nearly all these sites. Any architecture aficionado would do well to visit Phnom Penh to absorb its unique flavour. The Royal Palace, the Royal Villa, the National Museum, the Post Office Square and Phsar Thmey are few of the multitudes of places that Phnom Penh has to offer. Photography opportunities are endless as these buildings are easily accessible. The old buildings standing proud and strong against the new developments projects of Phnom Penh gives the city a tangible feel of "old-meets-new".

There are different types of tours available within the city. Certain tours focus on Central Phnom Penh, others focus on colonial period buildings and university buildings while yet some tours visit specific places like the National Sports Complex or the Chaktomuk Conference Hall. These tours can easily be arranged by placing a simple phone call, or you can even choose to grab a map and go your own way exploring this wondrous city.

If you are looking for a hotel in Phnom Penh that would put you within easy reach of these interesting architectural wonders, Raffles Hotel Le Royal is ideal for you. It is a Phnom Penh hotel that offers top of the range accommodation and puts you within well reach of the best tourist sites the city has to offer. Even if you are not an architecture aficionado, being in the vicinity of beautiful buildings would compel you to step outside to pay these structures a visit.

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