In the center of a roundabout, a top the manicured mound at the end of Norodom Boulevard is the historically auspicious temple known to locals as simply Wat Phnom. Wat Preah Chedey Borapaut, to give the temple its full, official name is set in a small park planted with attractive gardens and long-standing, tall trees, perched above the streets of the old quarter, its folklore dates back to the formation of the city and to how it got its name.
The legend of Wat Phnom marks the very beginnings of the city when a widow named Penh, (sometimes referred to as Daun Penh, (grandmother Penh) found four bronze statues of the Lord Buddha in a Koki tree floating down the Mekong River. Daun Penh immediately had built a shrine on the small hill to protect these sacred objects. Soon people began coming to the site to pray and make merit, seek blessing and good fortune.
In 1437, the King had the small mound raised and it began to resemble the 27 meter high temple and monument that it is today. The impressive stupa on the west side of the sanctuary contains the ashes of the king and his royal family.
Each year Wat Phnom becomes a focus for celebration during the Khmer New Year, and Pchum Ben.