Wat Ounalom on the riverfront is reputedly the oldest Buddhist foundation in the city, and probably the most important pagoda in Cambodian Buddhism as it houses the nation’s religious administration as well as its top monk. The founding date is variously cited as 1422 and 1443.
Prior to 1974, this wat also held the library of the Buddhist Institute, which had amassed some 30,000 titles before it was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. The institute has now been revived and was recently relocated to larger premises on Sihanouk Boulevard. Fortunately, the wat’s central feature, a hair from the Buddha’s eyebrow (known as ounalom) seems to have survived the trials of history and is preserved in a building behind the main pagoda.
The Wat Ounalom is located at Sothearos Boulevard, 200 meters north of the Royal Palace at the Riverfront. It is open daily with no entrance fee. Pagodas and monks welcome visitors and tourists. Please always remember to pay proper respect to the monks and observe silence while inside the premises.
Photo taken during my visit to Phnom Penh, Cambodia in January 2011.