Independence Monument, or Vimean Ekareach – as it is referred to in Khmer, is a majestic structure that dominates Phnom Penh city centre. Independence Monument was primarily erected to mark the liberation of the country from the French who ruled Cambodia for almost a century from 1863 to 1953.
Built in 1958 and inaugurated in 1962 during the regime of Sangkum Reastr, this monument also serves as a proud testament to commemorate people who sacrificed their lives for the welfare of the country. The monument is captivating for its cool, serene atmosphere, which in turn makes it a much sought-after destination.
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A stunning illustration of traditional Angkorian architecture, Independence Monument was designed by Vann Molyvann – a distinguished Cambodian architect – in the model of a lotus that largely takes after stupas seen at Angkorian Wat. Perhaps the salient characteristic of this 20-metre tall, reddish-brown stone memorial is the multi-headed snakes that titivate the five levels of lotus bud. Its intricate designs are best highlighted in the late afternoon, as shadow creeps across the floors.
Nevertheless, a real visual treat is at night when the monument as well as its surroundings including the fountain is illuminated by blue, red and white floodlights – the colours that embody the Cambodian flag. Every year, Independence Monument becomes a centre of activities during national festivities such as Independence Day and Constitution Day, falling on November 9th and September 24th respectively.
The ceremonial flame ignited by a royal official in the monument’s interior plinth marks the beginning of the spellbinding national celebrations. War heroes are venerated on this special occasion by placing floral wreaths on the monument’s stairs. On the eastern part of the monument towards the Sihanouk Boulevard is a well-laid open park that is perfect to indulge in a variety of activities such as jogging, walking or simply savouring the cool breezes.
- Location: Located in the centre of a roundabout at the intersection of boulevards such as the Sihanouk and the Norodom, Independence Monument is just few blocks from the key landmarks of the city, such as Wat Phnom, Royal Palace and Sisowath Quay.