Wat Ounalom

Originally founded in 1422 by King Ponhea Yat (1405-1467), Wat Ounalom located north from the National Museum of Arts, is one of Phnom Penh’s five original wats. Wat Ounalom is the seat of the Mahanikaya, the larger of the two main Buddhist sects in Cambodia to which some 90 per cent of the clergy belong. Before the Khmer Rouge emptied Phnom Penh in 1975, more than 500 monks used to live at the Wat. The Khmer Rouge killed the abbot and a large number of monks and vandalized the buildings and their treasures. Long known as an important centre for Buddhist learning, it temporarily housed the Buddhist Institute on its re-establishment in 1992. The country headquarters of the École Française d’extrème-orient (EFEO) is currently based at the wat.

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