The Silver Pagoda, also known as Wat Preah Keo Morakot, is a significant temple located within the grounds of the the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
About the Silver Pagoda
Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace was first opened in 1866 and initially consisted of wooden buildings with a short life span. Over the next few decades these temporary structures were gradually replaced with more permanent structures. The Silver Pagoda, completed in 1902, was one of these built to last additions to the Royal Palace although in practice it didn’t actually last that long.
In 1962 the Silver Pagoda had to be rebuilt replacing wooden components of the building with reinforced concrete. At this stage 5,329 solid silver floor tiles were added, hence the name the Silver Pagoda. Architecturally, the more modern incarnation of the Silver Pagoda is near identical to the original 1902 version, just with embellishments such as the silver tiles and Italian glass set into the columns. One original feature that did survive largely intact, however, is the 642 metre long wall mural around the building portraying scenes from the Ramayana.
The Silver Pagoda is more formally known as Wat Preah Keo Morakot, which means the temple of the Emerald Buddha. This is not the same Emerald Buddha that now resides in the Grand Palace in Bangkok, but a different 60 cm tall green crystal Buddha statue made some time during the period from 17th to 19th Century. The origins of the statue are the subject of debate, with one of the candidates for having produced the statue being a French manufacturer of luxury glass goods. Either way, this is one of the most important religious artefacts in Cambodia.
The Silver Pagoda also houses another of Cambodia’s most revered and valuable religious artefacts, the Maitreya Buddha. The Maitreya Buddha is a life sized solid gold statue of the Lord Buddha weighing 95 kg. The Maitreya Buddha was originally encrusted with around 2,000 diamonds, some as large 25 carats. These diamond went missing during the period of Khmer Rouge rule and have partly been replaced with less precious stones donated to the temple during the period after the end of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.
Location of the Silver Pagoda
The Silver Pagoda is located 3.2 km by road from Phnom Penh Railway Station.