Wat Ratchaburana, which translates to “the temple of Royal Restoration” was built in 1424 by King Borommarachathirat II as a memorial to his two elder brothers. It is located on the historical island near Wat Mahathat.
When it was constructed it was accessible by boat as it was on the banks of a canal, that has been filled up about a century ago.
History of Wat Ratchaburana
When King Intharacha I died his two eldest sons fought each other to be the next King. As both died the King’s third son Prince Sam Phraya ascended the throne. The Prince built Wat Ratchaburana on the spot where his two older brothers were cremated. Two chedis were erected on the spot where the princes died. The temple was largely destroyed and looted during the Burmese invasion of 1767.
Treasures from the temple crypt
In 1957 the crypt of the Wat Ratchaburana was looted and many precious artifacts as votive tablets, golden Royal regalia, gems and Buddha images were stolen. The thieves were caught and some of the treasures were recovered.
A year later the Fine Arts Department started excavation and restoration of the temple. Many more priceless objects were discovered that are now exhibited at the nearby Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.
Architecture of the Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Ratchaburana was built following Khmer design concepts. Its design resembles the early mountain temples of Angkor. The monastery faces East, the direction of the rising sun.
The temple’s center is a large Khmer style prang symbolizing Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Buddhist and Hindu cosmology. The prang is surrounded by four smaller towers, in turn surrounded by a gallery enclosing a courtyard.
Much later an ordination hall (ubosot) and a large assembly hall (viharn) were added. The viharn’s walls are still standing, its wooden roof has long gone.
Khmer style prang
At the center of the temple stands a large corncob shaped prang on an elevated platform. Some of the fine stucco ornamentation is still visible as well as sculptings of mythical creatures as Garudas and multi headed Naga snakes.
On the East side is a steep stairway leading to the crypt where relics were discovered that are now exhibited in the nearby Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.
The main prang has been restored by the Fine Arts Department.
Subsidiary chedis and viharns
Around the main buildings is a large number of chedis in various styles and states of preservation as well as several subsidiary viharns.
Wat Ratchaburana opens daily from 8 am until 5 pm.
Entrance fee is 50 Baht per person.