The Temple of Royal Restoration

Wat Ratchaburana

Built in the 15th Century, Wat Ratchaburana is one of the best-preserved ruins in the ancient Siam capital of Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Wat Ratchaburana is one of the royal monasteries built during the Ayutthaya era and the eldest Temple in the province. According to the official document, it was built in 1424 during the reign of Somdet Phra Borommaracha II, commonly known as Chao Sam Phraya, on the royal cremation site of Chao Ai Phraya and Chao Yi Phraya.

History of Wat Ratchaburana

The temple was built by Chao Sam Phraya, who became king after his father died in 1424 and his two brothers, Chao Aye Phraya and Chao Yi Phraya killed each other when they fought over the throne. Chao Sam Phraya had two memorial pagodas built on the location where both of his elder brothers fought each other to the death on elephants' backs, and named the pagodas after his brothers - Chedi Chao Ai Phraya and Chedi Chao Yi Phraya.


Wat Ratchaburana


Treasures from the temple crypt

The highlight of Wat Ratchaburana is the crypt where large treasures were stored. In the year 1956 & 1957, looters smuggled through the temple and plundered a big amount of valuables, especially the votive tablets made of tin and lead.

In September 1957, the Fine Arts Department officially excavated and restored the crypt of Wat Ratchaburana. To their surprise, they uncovered the relics of the Lord Buddha, swords, crowns, golden attires, Buddha images made of gold and copper alloy, royal regalia and a few hundred thousands of votive tablets. Later the Fine Arts Department allowed collectors to purchase these recuperated sacred items, and the income from the sales were meant to build Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.

Architecture of the Wat Ratchaburana

Wat Ratchaburana was constructed according to the Khmer design concept. Its design is similar to Angkor's early mountain temples. The monastery faces east in the direction of sunrise.

The entrance to the temple leads into the still standing wall of the main shrine (ubosot). Although the roof is gone, as well as many of the pillars and most of the stone Buddha statue, it is easy to imagine what the shrine must have been like the moment it was built. The missing roof provides an excellent view of the central prang that towers above the building.

At the end of the shrine there are two doors that lead out onto the grounds surrounding the central prang. There are many Buddha sculptures and other carvings among the ruins, some still in excellent condition while others badly damaged.
The central prang (tower) is constructed in the Khmer style, rising high up into the sky. It is incredibly well preserved and still even has some of it’s original appearance, depicting different demon images or other religious beings.


The Wall of Wat Ratchaburana


Khmer style prang

Inside the prang there is a two-level crypt and you can enter inside by climbing the steep steps on the sides of the tower. The crypt was undiscovered until 1957 when looters dug into it and stole some of the valuables inside. Much has been recovered and it was found that there were many valuable Buddha images and tablets made out of solid gold, along with amazing murals that fill the walls. There are now steps leading into the two levels of the crypt and although it is very hot and humid there, the ancient artwork is well worth the effort.


Ancient Murals in Crypt


Subsidiary chedis and viharns

There are many chedis in various styles and preservation conditions as well as several subsidiary viharns around the main buildings.

Opening hours
The entrance to Wat ratchaburana is through a small gate in the surrounding wall, open daily from 8 am until 5 pm. and costs 50Baht.