Cambodia’s Royal Palace complex was begun by King Norodom I (ruled 1860-1904) in 1886, when the capital was moved to Phnom Penh. Most buildings were completed before World War I, with involvement by French administrators and Thai designers and architects. French influence can be seen in the formal gardens which enhance the palace, and there are some European-style buildings on the grounds. Now Royal Palace is a home to His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.
Royal palace has four gates. The eastern Victory Gate leads directly to the entrance of the throne hall and is used only by royalty and VIPs. The northern or funeral gate is only opened after the death of a monarch. After being embalmed, the monarch’s body is kept in state at the palace for three months, with the face hidden by a one-kilogram solid gold mask, before being taken out via this gate. The west or executing gate was used by condemned prisoners exiting the palace to be killed. The southern gate is reserved for use by commoners and it is through this gate the public reaches the Silver Pagoda.
At the top of palace’s throne hall, note the four pale, almost clown-like faces, which represent the all-seeing king. The hall itself is painted vivid yellow, a symbol of Buddhism, and white, for Hinduism, the two main faiths of Cambodia until they were combined into one by Jayavarman VII in the 12th century. The central door of the five at the front of the throne hall are reserved for royalty and VIPs. Inside, note the 1913 ceiling mural telling the story of the Ramayana. The thick carpet supplied by China in 1993 matches the lotus-bud floor tiles.