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Wat Phra Keo


Wat Phra Keo


  • Wat Phra Keo is nearly opposite Wat Sri Saket on Mahosot Road beteen Setthathirat and Fa Ngum Roads. This is one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in Laos. It now functions as both a national museum and a Buddhist Temple.
  • Wat Phra Keo now houses an excellent collection of Lao works of art. Wat Phra Keo was originally the royal prayer hall and was constructed in 1565 by then King Setthathirat as the temple to house the famed Emerald Buddha (the Phra Keo) which was brought by him from Chiang Mai, having previously been in Chiang Rai, and now at Wat Phrao Kaeo in Bangkok. The Siamese looted the Emerald Buddha in 1778 as a war prize and took it from here to Bangkok. It was originally a Lan Na work of art and treasure and today Lan Na is now part of Thailand. The Phra Keo is not made of emerald although it is called the Emerald Buddha and is a green stone, probably Jade. Legend has it coming originally from India or Ceylon although it does portray 13th and 14th century Lanna style art form. In the 15th century it was discovered under stucco of a Chedi in Chiang Rai following the Chedi being struck by lightning. It was then moved to Lamphang and again later to Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai. In the 16th century it was taken to Luang Prabang before again being moved to Bangkok. The version at the Vientiane Temple is a replica of the original.
  • The stair cases of Wat Phra Keo have the traditional Nagas flanking both sides. The elaborate Naga heads form the ends of the balustrades of the steps. There are three galleries. The doors of the Sim at both ends of the building are still original and also outstanding examples of Lao carving. These can be seen in the picture below. The restoration of the Temple began in the 1930's when it was first made a museum.
  • The terrace surrounding the Sim ( the main sanctuary) contains many excellent Lao bronze and other works of art, some of which can be seen in the pictures shown here. The bronzes on the terrace are all Lao and all are in the form of Buddha calling the earth in that classic pose. The Bronzes at the front of Wat Phra Keo are dated between the 6th and 9th centuries. Also to be seen are stele with inscriptions on Lao.
  • In the garden not far from the Temple is a 2,000 year old stone jar from the Plain of Jars in Northeast Laos.



Wat Phra Keo