Wat Chaiwatthanaram is definitely one of the most beautiful and impressive historical sites in Ayutthaya. The temple ‘sits’ on Chao Phraya river banks, outside of the island created by 3 rivers.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram was built back in 1630 by king Prasat Thong in the prosperous times of Siam kingdom, in the late Ayutthaya period. It was the first temple which was built during Prasat Thong’s reign, to honor the memory of his mother and celebrate his kingship (1629-1656). It was a royal temple where the royal family carried out their ceremonies. Building the temple took 20 years (1630-1650) and it was built in the Khmer style; its structure echoes Angkor Watt in Cambodia.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram’s outline is based on a Buddhist principle known as “king Ruang’s 3 worlds” – a 35 meters high, main structure/tower (Prang) that marks the center of the world, and in its corners 4 smaller structures/buildings that represent the 4 continents. The main structure is crowned by 8 Chedi used to cremate bodies of the royal family members.
After Ayutthaya was conquered by the Burmese in 1767, the temple was completely abandoned and neglected for over 200 years. Only in 1987, the Thai government decided to restore the site, which was open to the public again in 1992.
My Opinion: Of all the historical sites in Ayutthaya, Wat Chaiwatthanaram is the perfect place to visit as it is by far the most impressive – I highly recommend visiting it in the afternoon as the sunset approaches.