Phnom Penh Legend

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A statue of Lady Penh (Yeay Penh) near Wat Phnom

This is the legendary story of the founding of Phnom Penh.

Lady Penh was a wealthy lady who lived on the outskirts of a village located in present-day Phnom Penh. During the flood of the Mekong river, a hollow tree floated up to her lawn, and in the tree were four bronze statues of the Buddha. She saw this as a sign that the Buddha wanted a new home, so she built a temple for the Buddha. This temple is now believed to be the one in the capital city of Phnom Penh.

The Temple that Lady Penh created grew famous, and was visited by throngs of pilgrims. When Siam invaded Angkor a hundred years later, the capital city of Cambodia was moved to Phnom Penh. In Khmer language, "Phnom" means "Hill", so the city Phnom Penh means "the hill of the lady Penh". The temple believed to be built by Lady Penh is centuries old now, and is called Wat Phnom, or "Hill Temple".

See also[edit]


  • Major World Nations: Cambodia by Claudia Canesso.