Independence Monument | The Honorable Landmark of Cambodia

Independent Monument

Independent Monument in the heart of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, and has a significant meaning for every Cambodian. It is hard not to notice this beautiful monument while visiting the city. That is because of its unique and peculiar design that is far different from other buildings you can find in the city. Independent Monument is an eye-catching and delicate site located right in the city center. Tourists would stop by next to the monument to take pictures and enjoy the architectural design of the building. Right next to the memorial, there is a park where everyone can hang out, take a rest, and relax. Unlike other famous temples or attraction sites in Cambodia, Independent Monument is not for people to walk around and observe. It is a memorial site built to celebrate Cambodia’s independence from the French and in remembrance of the patriots who sacrificed their lives for liberation. That is what makes the monument worth visiting as it shows the history, gratitude, and beliefs of the nation. So here are some of the background history and details about the independent monument you should know about before visiting the site.

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Independence Monument | The Honorable Landmark of Cambodia

Background history

Independent Monument
Source: youtube “Visit Cambodia”

The standing monument represents and commemorates the Independence of Cambodia. It was built in 1958 in remembrance of the country’s liberation after the prolonged colonialism of the French. Most importantly, it is a tribute dedicated to the soldiers and people who stood up against colonialism for freedom and sovereignty. Thousands of soldiers and patriots have sacrificed their lives to bring peace and Independence to the country. Being under French colonialism for almost a century, the independent monument signifies both national, historical, and spiritual value to the people of Cambodia.

Being under French colonialism for nine decades (1863-1953), the struggle for Independence had not been easy for Cambodian people. The rights of Cambodian people were oppressed, and there have been several attempts from the people to gain back the independence and sovereignty of the nation. Regarding the success of claiming Independence, King Sihanouk was the remarkable actor who made it happen. He took a series of measures, which is later called “Crusade for Independence”. Several historical events were happening at the same time that the French finally agreed to negotiate for Independence in August 1953. Eventually, the day that Cambodian people were waiting for had arrived, November 9, 1953, which is the declaration of Independence from the French.

How to get there

Tuk Tuk
Source : vanillamozi

This important monument is very easy to spot. It is a roundabout on the intersection between Sihanouk boulevard and Norodom Boulevard. With just around 10 minutes walk, you can quickly get to the Royal Palace and enjoy other popular religious sites around the area. If you are a tourist visiting the city, there are many transportation options available for you. Some of the most popular and common options include rickshaw, Tuk-tuk, and taxi. It is easy and affordable to move around from place to place using rickshaws and tuk-tuks. But if you prefer something more comfortable, then taking a taxi is for you. Grab, Passapp, and Uber, are some of the websites or apps you can use here in Phnom Penh for transportation. Furthermore, the public bus is also an option you can use to get to Independent Monument. It is the cheapest transportation you can opt for. However, if you are not familiar with the bus routes, you may need to consider different options.

What to see there

independence monument

Tourists can visit independent monument anytime, day and night. Aside from observing the architectural design of the memorial, visitors can take good pictures with this remarkable site. It would help if you also were careful while taking photos as it is located right in the center of a roundabout. So there is a lot of dense traffic going on around the area. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to get into the building. But, that is not a problem because there is nothing important to see inside of the monument anyway. Around the site, you can find a beautiful park that is always open to the public. There, many people enjoy sitting and talking on the bench, having a picnic, walking, jogging, and doing other activities. So you can spend time walking and enjoying the view of the building. Independent Monument is the best place to enjoy and learn about the city life of Phnom Penh. At night, the light decorations on the monument and in the park bring out a spectacular view. There are red, blue, and white lights shining from the site, representing the flag of Cambodia. If you are not used to the hot tropical weather, then going there at night is ideal for you. Not only you get to see the beautiful night view, but you can also enjoy the cool night breeze.

Statue of King Father Norodom Sihanouk
Source: locationscout

One important figure that you will see in the park is the statue of King Father Norodom Sihanouk, who was an admirable royalty who sought Independence for the nation. The 4.5 meters bronze statue is built under a stupa to commemorate and honor his success in liberating Cambodia from colonization. The statue is also built to show gratitude and the love that Cambodian people have for the King Father Norodom Sihanouk, who passed away on October 15, 2012, at the age of 89. This site is called “Norodom Sihanouk Memorial.”

riverside in front of the Royal Palace
Source: thereiscory

Aside from the park and the monument itself, tourists can walk along the riverside in front of the Royal Palace. There, you can enjoy the river breeze, feed the birds, go cycling, running, and other activities. There are also many restaurants across the street where you can dine and enjoy good food and drinks. The area around the independent monument is very well-maintained, so it is very convenient for tourists to walk around and enjoy the city.

independence monument
Source: pressocm

Independent monument becomes a crowded and gathering place during important national holidays, including Independence Day (November 9) and constitution day (September 24) and others. During these events, there are marches, parades, and unique decorations going on around this national site. Typically, this landmark seems like a quiet and beautiful roundabout, but it turns completely different during these special occasions. So these are the best time for visitors to celebrate the national holidays together and experience it to the fullest.

Layout & Architecture design

independence monument phnom penh

With a glance, you would be able to tell that the monument resembles a blooming lotus. It is a common and important feature of Cambodian architecture. This stupa-like building is designed by the father of modern Cambodian architecture, Vann Molyvann. He is also the architect of many other famous buildings and landmarks in Cambodia during the 1960s and 1970s. Olympic stadium and Chaktomuk Conference Hall are all his architectural works, to name a few. The blooming flower symbolizes revitalization and purity. Many of Cambodian historical sites such as Angkor Wat and Bakong temples, also model after blooming lotus. Height wise, the independent monument is about 20 meters (~66 feet) tall. The design consists of reddish-brown stone with five-headed naga heads facing outwards from different levels of the lotus bud. The serpent or Naga that we often find in Khmer architecture is related to religions, mainly Buddhism and Hinduism. The two beliefs have deeply rooted in Cambodian culture since ancient times. The symbol of Naga has a very long history in which many people believe that Cambodian people are descendants of Naga. Thus, in ancient buildings and some important sites of Cambodia, you are likely to spot this symbol as a part of the design.

To Cambodian people, Independent Monument means much more than a beautiful landmark. It is the heart of Phnom Penh, where thousands of people drive around every day. Visitors who come from different parts of Cambodia, especially the countryside, would not want to skip seeing this important site. Apart from getting to enjoy the beautiful sight of the architectural design, tourists can also get to experience the busy life of the capital city. Taking great photos with this beautiful background, walking, and relaxing at the park next to the building are just some of the things you can do around the site. Most importantly, for both local and foreign visitors who happen to be in Phnom Penh during the independence Day of Cambodia, which is on November 9, do not forget to stop by the monument for a quick visit as there will be special celebration and activities in front of the memorial. Every country has its history. By visiting this attractive landmark, tourists will get to learn about one of the most important historical events of Cambodia. So, Independent Monument is a unique and exclusive site that tourists should never miss out on while visiting Phnom Penh. Not only they get to learn more about Khmer architecture, but also the national, historical, and spiritual value of Cambodia.


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