Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Ayutthaya, Thailand
Info. Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Ayutthaya, Thailand
In present-day Thailand sit the ruins of the ancient kingdom that preceded it, Ayutthaya. Wat Phra Si Sanphet, shown here, was the holiest site in the capital of that kingdom, a royal temple containing a 16-metre tall, golden Buddha among other treasures. The first king of Ayutthaya, Ramathibodi I, ordered construction of a royal palace here in 1350. Nearly a century later, the palace was moved to a different location in the city and the former palace grounds were converted to a holy site. The three structures shown are called chedis, bell-like structures, topped with miniature chedis on their roofs. After serving as the seat of the kingdom for 417 years, the capital city of Ayutthaya was invaded and destroyed in 1767 by the Burmese, who melted down the gold of the temples and palaces, then set the buildings on fire. Only these three chedis survived, and over time they fell into ruin. Restoration began on the chedis in 1956, but only the foundations of the rest of the complex remain.