Inside Phnom Penh’s Central Market

The beating Golden heart of the inner Market.
The beating Golden heart of the inner Market.

A quick glimpse inside the Art-Deco megaplex that is the Central Market building in Cambodia’s sprawling capital. Looking from above you can see the complex’s various wings radiate out from the central dome, giving the impression of a giant ‘X-marks-the-spot’, and even on ground level it’s quite the architectural departure from the boxy, tile-cladded concretia that surrounds it. The interior of the inner market underneath the sky-high dome is absolutely gorgeous and awash with trinkets, electronics, clothing, beauty products, and pretty much everything else you could hope to want for daily Khmer life — all apart from food, which is located slightly away from the central building in the cluttered maze of structures on the periphery.

Completed in 1937 during the sunset years of French Colonialism, apparently a swamp was drained for its construction, and it subsequently became liable to flooding all the way up until its most recent renovation in 2011, when it finally received a new drainage system to deal with the region’s monsoon downpours.

For some reason I never took any photos of the exterior, so you’ll have to make do with this interior image of the cathedral-esque architecture looming over a sea of jewellery sellers — their wares illuminated by large banks of cool-hued LEDs.

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