The heart of the old French colonial part of the city features architectural wonders galore.
The eye-catching pagoda at Wat Phnom is unsurprising located on top of the small hill at the northern end of the city; unsurprising as phnom is Khmer for ‘hill'. Legends about this hill and its relation to the founding of Phnom Penh abound, with one saying that Lady Penh was a wealthy woman living on the outskirts of the city who built a hill and small temple after fishing a tree from the river containing four Buddha statues. With its surrounding garden, mischievous monkeys and the resident elephant, the site is one of the city's foremost landmarks and attracts many visitors.
Colonial influences abound in the neighbourhood near Wat Phnom, leading it to be commonly known as the French quarter. The area boasts a number of Belle Époque and Art Deco houses and public buildings dating back to the 19th century and is worth visiting to see structures such as the post office, national library, train station and the French Embassy.