Wat Phra Sri Sanphet and the Grand Palace

The old capital's centrepiece

Photo of Wat Phra Sri Sanphet and the Grand Palace, , Ayutthaya

What we say: 3.5 stars

In 1448, King Borommatrailokanat ordered that a temple be built here, creating a centrepiece to the vast palace complex. A wiharn was built in 1499 and a year later the Phra Buddha Chai Sri Sanphet, a 16-metre tall Buddha image, was cast and covered in gold.

During its heyday, the Grand Palace boasted the Sanphet Prasat Hall, with a five-tiered gold-covered roof, as well as an array of other regal buildings. Because it was designated a royal wat, no monks dwelled here and it was used only for royal ceremonies.

When the Burmese ransacked the city in 1767, they totally trashed the place, melting down 161 kilogrammes of gold from the Phra Buddha Chao Sri Sanphet alone and setting fire to everything else. During the reign of King Rama I, the bronze core of the image was transferred to Wat Phra Chetuphon in Bangkok.

All that remains today of this once dazzlingcomplex are the three chedis constructed to contain the ashes of King Borommatrailokanat along with those of his sons King Borommarachathirat III and King Ramthibodi II. Those expecting a lavish "Grand Palace" like the one in Bangkok will be disappointed. Still, the three large chedis are very photogenic, especially as the late afternoon sun begins to descend behind them. The complex used to be filled with frangipani trees and well-groomed gardens, but sadly, the 2011 flood destroyed virtually all of that and it will be a long time before the grounds are restored to their former beauty.

To appreciate the scale of the original palace complex, see the model upstairs in the tourist office.

More details
Sri Sanphet Road
Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 to 17:00, floodlit nightly 19:00-21:00
How to get there: Wat Phra Sri Sanphet is located at the area where Naresuan and Si Sanphet roads converge. The front gates are to the right if facing Wiharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit.
Last updated: 27th November, 2014

About the author:
Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.
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Wat Phra Sri Sanphet and the Grand Palace
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