Phnom Penh the recently nominated WORLD CAPITAL OF CULTURE AND TOURISM is known on the world as the Gem of Asia, The city of waters and the capital of The Kingdom of Wonders: Cambodia, all are rightly deserved appellatives and as academician Mircea Constantinescu pointed out of WORLD TOURISM AWARDS CEREMONY:
Independence Square and Monument: the heart of PHNOM PENH.
This is WORLD CAPITAL OF CULTURE AND TOURISM!
It is a city that it embraces with warmth and gentle attention the soul of the travelers and it’s the real gate to Asia and the unique gem that shines over us with the light of culture and distinction. I also take this moment to congratulate the Ministry of tourism on the initiative to create a special walking riverine prospect offering for tourists the opportunity to stroll around the banks of the famous Mekong.
But what are the cities landmarks and festivals and the true heart of the WORLD CAPITAL OF CULTURE AND TOURISM?
Wat Ounalom, the heart of Cambodian buddhism and a must see in any itinerary in the World Capital of Culture and Tourism – Phnom Penh.
PHNOM PENH is such a generous area: encompassing the natural setting provided by the confluence of three rivers: the mighty Mekong, the Bassac and the great Tonle Sap, the world unique river that is flowing upwards the stream for six months a year.
This perfect natural landscape has becoming the setting of a rich cultural city that encompasses religious monuments and heritage treasures like: Wat Ounalom, the 1443 shrine build for a sacred hair of the Buddha and considered the seat of Cambodian Buddhism who will celebrate 575 of continuously and interrupted religious activities.
Another landmark is the famous Wat Phnom, built in 1372 and restored or reconstructed in 1434, 1806, 1894 and 1926 and has become a symbol of the capital city Phnom Penh and regularly used for prayer, small offerings, and meditation.
It is a specially charged place connected with the legendary figure of grandmother Penh and from 15th century King Ponhea Yat built the capital in Phnom Penh around this sacred mountain used for keeping the cremated ash of the King.
The mountain of Wat Phnom has been transformed in the last 700 years in a place that is uniting Buddhist statues of the Angkorean era with art crafts from the medieval and modern area and also a royal necropolis hosting the stupas for keeping cremated ash of the Royal families.
Other religious places and cultural landmarks are Wat Langka who is reputedly one of Phnom Penh’s five original Wats (1422).
Established as a sanctuary for the Holy Writings and a meeting place for Cambodian and Sri Lankan monks, the Wat was named in honor of these meetings.
Wat Botum Padei also one of the oldest religious buildings still in use in the city from 1422 and is compound is crowded with ornate and colorful stupas, including the towering ‘Buddha’s Relic Stupa.
Wat Koh another one of the city’s five original Wats, established in the early 15th century and Wat Neak Kravorn situated in a perfect picturesque skyline of Boeung Kak lake.
PHNOM PENH is not only the seat of rich cultural and religious objectives but is also presenting a long list of tourism centers from the famed Russian Market, Old Market, Central Market, Night Market and a large array of traditional markets, to the incredible riches of National Museum having on display more than 5,000 works of art, ranging from the 7th to the 13th century.
Treasures include sculptures, 19th-century dance costumes, royal barges and palanquins.
We have to note also in the panorama of the incredible cultural potential of Phnom Penh the fact that: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CAMBODIA was voted as a WORLD`S FAVORITE MUSEUM for the incredible treasures encompassing more than 14.00 priceless artifacts and for the perfect ways that are displayed and imbuing the visitors with the message of culture.
Phnom Penh is far from being just a huge open-air repository of temples, stupas, palaces and incredible museums it is also a place where the energy of his peoples is channeled into huge celebrations like Moon Festival, Water Festival, Royal Ploughing Day, Khmer New Year or famed Buddha Day-Visakh Bochea Day.
MEKONG ISLAND (KOH DACH)
If you wish to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh and venture into a world of peace and tranquility, then a visit to Mekong Island about 15km north of the city centre will be just right for you.
Bounded by views of rice paddies, vegetable farms and fruit orchards, Mekong Island not only serves as a venue for an enjoyable day trip or picnic but also enables you to experience the country’s authentic culture at its best.
This island occupies an area of about ten hectares of land and is one of the prominent centers of traditional handicrafts in Cambodia, with artisans engaged in silk weaving, pottery, woodcarving and dyeing in its villages.
Phnom Penh is waiting the travelers, tourists and all those who want to experience the true charm of Asia and the magic of a World Capital of Culture and Tourism with the open doors.