Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
GPS: 13.752074499396, 100.4932220683
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew or, of its full name, Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram) is one of the most venerated Buddhist temples in Thailand. Located in the historic centre of Bangkok, on the ancient island of Rattanakosin, this sacred site is part of a vast royal estate called the Grand Palace. It symbolizes the seat of power of the nation and Thailand’s spiritual attachment to Buddhism.
After the destruction of the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya by the Third Burmese Empire in 1767, Taksin the Great succeeded in reunifying Thailand in the space of only 15 years through several military conquests. During his reign (1767-1782), he moved the capital of Siam (the former name of Thailand) to Thonburi, on the right bank of the Chao Phraya River. Declared insane, he was overthrown by one of his generals, Chao Phraya Chakri, who succeeded him on the throne (he took the name of Rama I posthumously). The new monarch founded the Chakri dynasty, which is still in power today, and began to build the new capital across the river in Bangkok (Thonburi remained an independent city and province until it was merged with Bangkok in 1971). In 1782, Rama I decided to build a splendidly decorated architectural complex built for himself, consisting of the Grand Palace of Bangkok (his new royal residence) and the Buddhist temple Wat Phra Kaeo (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha).
Additions and extensions continued for more than two centuries by successive rulers of the Chakri dynasty, notably during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in the second half of the 19th century. A place of coronation, former residence of the kings of Thailand and administrative seat of government, the Grand Palace hosts royal ceremonies and receptions of heads of state. Within its walls are Wat Phra Kaew and a building called Ubosot, specially designed to house the statue of the Emerald Buddha on a large promontory. Sculpted from a single block of green jade in the 15th century, this 76 cm high representation of Buddha is said to have been discovered in 1431 in Chiang Rai (a city in the north of Thailand in Wat Pa Yier temple meaning the “bamboo forest temple”). It was the future king Rama I who took possession of statue of the Emerald Buddha and brought it back to Thonburi after the conquest of the independent kingdom of Vientiane (present-day Laos) in 1778. It is still today the religious and iconic emblem of the Kingdom of Thailand.