There are many hundreds of temples in Bangkok, most of which date from the Rattanakosin era (after 1782).
Some of the oldest and most important temples are located in the old historic center of Bangkok called Ko Rattanakosin on the East bank of the Chao Phraya river.
After the destruction of the former capital Ayutthaya by the Burmese in 1767, Thonburi on the West bank of the Chao Phraya river was established as the new capital by King Taksin the Great. When Taksin was overthrown, general Chao Phraya Chakri came to power in 1782.
The new King who was named King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I, the first King of the Chakri dynasty) moved the capital to the East side of the river founding the city of Bangkok and starting the Rattanakosin Kingdom.
Temples of old Rattanakosin area
Soon after the founding of Bangkok, Rama I started construction of the Grand Palace and the Wat Phra Kaew temple in an area known as Ko Rattanakosin, or Rattanakosin island. The area was virtually surrounded by water with the Chao Phraya river on the West side and canals that were dug out to protect the city on the East side.
Soon other magnificent temples like the Wat Pho (the temple of the Reclining Buddha), the Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit and the Wat Suthat followed. After Bangkok was established as the capital of the Kingdom, many old images and statues of the Buddha were taken to Bangkok temples from places as Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.
Rattanakosin era temples
Many of Bangkok’s temples dating from the Rattanakosin era were built by Kings of the Chakri dynasty and some contain the ashes of former Chakri Kings.
Although the Wat Arun predates the Rattanakosin era, when it was renovated during the reign of King Rama II the great prang for which it is best known was raised to its current height of more than 80 meters. The main Buddha image was designed by the King himself and the base where the image sits on contains the ashes of the King.
Another magnificent temple, the Wat Benchamabophit or marble temple was built by King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V) at the end of the 19th century after completion of the Dusit Palace. The ashes of the King are buried under the main Buddha image.
Pre Rattanakosin era Bangkok temples
- Wat Arun (The temple of dawn)
- Wat Pho (The temple of the Reclining Buddha)
- Wat Phra Kaew (The temple of the Emerald Buddha)
- Wat Intharawihan (The temple of the standing Buddha)
- Wat Yannawa (The boat temple)
- Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit