Wat Phra Kaew is located in the northeastern corner of the Grand Palance in the capital city of Bangkok. It is the venue where Thai royalties consecrate Buddha statues and hold religious ceremonies. It got its name for the emerald Buddha inside the temple. Wat Phra Kaew is part of the Grand Palace, accounting for one fourth of the area of Grand Palace. It is regarded as the most famous and the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand with the full name of “Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram”. It is the only Buddhist temple without resident monks. Among the more than 400 temples in Thailand, Wat Phra Kaew is the most well-known one. Inside the temple there are central ubosoth, Phra Sri Ratana Chedi, Phra Mondop, the Royal Pantheon, bell tower and golden pagoda. Central ubosoth is the main structure of the temple, housing and enshrining the Emerald Statue, which is considered as the most important icon in Thailand. The emerald Buddha is 66 cm tall and 48 cm wide, carved out from a single jade stone. It is very valuable and listed as one of Thailand’s three national treasures, together with the Reclining Buddha and the Golden Buddha.
The whole building of the Wat Phra Kaew is magnificent, consisting of temples, pagodas and corridors with almost all the characteristics of Buddhist temples in Thailand. It is not only the largest temple in the nation, which best presents the ancient architecture and artistic features of Thailand, but also regarded as the precious artistic treasure of Thailand’s Buddhist architecture, sculpture and painting.
The Wat Phra Kaew covers an area of 21,000 square meters. It began to be built in 1782 and there were some renovations and repairs in the successive dynasties. There are altogether 22 temples there, serving as venues for holding Buddhist ceremonies and sacrificial activities by the royalty. There are some Buddhist statues in front of the emerald Buddha. Carvings and frescos add solemnness to the temple. Outside the temple, there stand mighty patron saints with peculiar shapes that are several meters tall.
The Wat Phra Kaew is well-known for its three characteristics, including sharp spires, architectural ornament and frescos. In the yard there are many Buddhist pagodas with various shapes and bright color. There are also a variety of legends regarding the origin of the emerald Buddha.