The Grand Cathedral of Phnom Penh

The Grand Cathedral of Phnom Penh

By MMC Editorial

A photo of the Grand Cathedral of Phnom Penh before brought down during Khmer Rouge regime. (Documentation Center of Cambodia Archives)

With a capacity of up to 10,000 people, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Phnom Penh began its construction in 1951 and finished in 1965. The French government financed it. The Grand Cathedral could be seen from Wat Phnom.

The Cathedral was the first among 73 other churches that were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge in 1976. It was reported that the Khmer Rouge cadres smashed using hammers and the salvaged iron was remade into nails.

The Phnom Penh Post reported in 2015 that the destruction represented two accomplishments for the Khmer Rouge.  First, they salvaged valuable building material and, second, they won a symbolic victory against the Vietnamese since two-thirds of Catholics in Phnom Penh were Vietnamese.

Only a small portion of the gate remains and the cross, a Christian symbol, can still be seen on the gate of Phnom Penh City Hall located nearby. The city hall was the former house of the Catholic bishop and was part of the cathedral. In the present time, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication sits where the cathedral once stood.

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