Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Palace

The national flag of Cambodia flies over the Senate State Palace
Inside one of the main reception rooms at the State Palace
In rounding off my first-ever visit to the Chamkarmon Palace compound, opened up to the public for a one-off visit as part of the Open Doors Weekend, I was a mite disappointed. With Cambodia's most famous architect Vann Molyvann involved in the design of the home of Cambodia's head of state, I had high expectations. Instead, it failed to live up to some of the other Vann Molyvann designed buildings and other architectural marvels of the 50's and 60's, though I was glad I made the effort to see it. As it was the home of the former King and his family, the buildings we visited on Saturday morning included their private residences, designed by another Khmer architect called Lu Ban Hap, as well as the State Palace and reception rooms which were products of Vann Molyvann. When Lon Nol took charge in 1970 he moved into the compound and erected more structures, including reinforced bunkers, before the whole area was renovated with Chinese and Japanese government funds in 1998. As for the Senate, it's the upper house of the Parliament of Cambodia and has the power to amend the constitution and laws of the country through its 60 or so senators who represent the main political parties. We were allowed access during the tour to the main areas of the Senate, though if you have been to the Houses of Parliament in London for example, the one in Phnom Penh doesn't come close.
A look at the inner corridors of power inside the State Palace
This is the main Senate Chamber where senators do whatever senators do
The coat of arms of the Senate of Cambodia
The back of the State Palace with its tell-tale 60's architectural designs
Known as the White Hotel, this now hosts the Constitutional Council
The Supreme Council of Magistrates used to be the Queen's residence
This interesting circular structure was the 60's home of Princess Bopha Devi
The former residence of Norodom Sihanouk is being converted into offices
Design elements in one of the gardens at Chamkarmon Palace
This building was erected during the tenure of Lon Nol and has a reinforced bunker underneath
A last look at the State Palace that now houses the Cambodian Senate



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