The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo – Bangkok, Thailand
Phra Si Ratana Chedi and Prasat Phra Thep Bidorn
Every guidebook written about Thailand will suggest a visit to the Grand Palace in Bangkok and they could not be more correct. Stepping from the bustling streets of Ratanakosin Bangkok into the Grand Palace is like entering another world. Lush gardens and fields stretch from the palace entrance to the temple walls in the distance. The golden Phra Si Ratana Chedi, Phra Mondop, and the Royal Partheon are make the perfect backdrop for many the family picture or a relaxing lunch. The view of Wat Phra Kaeo from the entrance to the Grand Palace
In the northeast corner of the complex, sits the most impressive temple in Bangkok: Wat Phra Kaeo. Murals cover the miles of jigsaw walls that surround Wat Phra Kaeo. Vibrant golds and reds depict kings, buddhas, spirits, and gods in epic battles over good and evil. Although none of the original murals from Rama I’s reign remain intact, the display and craftsmanship is utterly brilliant. The 178 painted panels that are constantly being restored due to the humidity. Painters are often seen meticulously stroking the walls into perfection.
The Phra Si Ratana Chedi built by Rama IV
The walls of the temple are amazing, but the true highlight stands in the center with the Phra Si Ratana Chedi. It was built by Rama IV to enshrine a piece of the Buddha’s breastbone and is one of the most well-kept chedis in Thailand. The golden tiles become almost hard to look at under the southeast Asian sun as the structure towers over 30 feet in the air. In the center of the upper terrace sits Phra Mondop which contains the Tripitaka, the Buddhist scripture, and is never open to the public.
Prasat Phra Thep Bidorn and Phra Mondop
The third structure built atop the terrace is the Royal Pantheon; also called Prasat Phra Thep Bidorn. The architecture of the pantheon is unique to this temple. The construction used a blend of Khmer influences and was built to highlight royal divinity. Although rarely open to the public, the pantheon contains life-size statues of every Thai king since Bangkok became the capital of Thailand.
The chedis representing the different aspects of Buddhism
The top of the Royal Pantheon at Wat Phra Kaeo
The gold face of a bird warrior
The detailed base of the Royal Pantheon
many Chinese statues line the temple, gifts from the Thai Chinese community
A statue of protection at Wat Phra Kaeo
Wat Phra Kaeo’s upper terrace
The Porciline Varharn
Cost: 350 baht ($10.54)
free for Thais or proof of employment in Thailand