A small hill crowned by an active wat (pagoda) marks the legendary founding place of the Phnom Penh. The hill is the site of constant activity, with a steady stream of the faithful trekking to the vihear, shrines and fortune tellers on top and a constellation of vendors, visitors and motodups at the bottom. Elephant rides available.
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 the enemies of Siam, (present day Thailand) 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 centeries old now, and is called Wat Phnom, or "Hill Temple".
Later, the surrounding area became known after the hill (Phnom) and its creator (Penh), hence the name of the city ‘Phnom Penh.’ The current temple was last rebuilt in 1926. The large stupa contains the remains of King Ponhea Yat (1405-1467) who moved the Khmer capital from Angkor to Phnom Penh the early 15th century. Look for the altar of Lady Penh between the large stupa and the vihear. She is said to be of particular help to women.