This Vann Molyvann-designed icon was built in 1958 to celebrate independence from the French five years earlier and as a memorial to Cambodia's war dead.
It's styled in the shape of an Angkor Wat-inspired, lotus-shaped stupa, and is best viewed from one of the roads that surround it.
Sadly, it is now being overshadowed by the ugly, imposing buildings towering nearby -- many would argue deliberately as Molyvann, who enjoyed the patronage of former King Norodom Sihanouk, is part of an establishment that represented a threat to the hegemony of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
Sitting in the centre of Phnom Penh's largest and arguably busiest roundabout, the monument is a favourite among tourists and Khmers alike for photographs. The park that runs east towards the river from the monument is a popular spot for Khmer wedding photos -- look for the wedding parties with their golden umbrellas posing in the afternoon light. It’s also a regular haunt for walkers, runners, dog walkers, strolling families, early evening games of badminton, and groups of kids who get together to stare at each others’ motorbikes and catch up on gossip. As a small window into Cambodian culture and way of life, there are few more pleasant ways to catch a glimpse. There's probably no need to make a special trip here -- as you travel throughout the city, you'll pass by at some point.
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