The Grand Palace (photo #1, at left) was built by King Rama I starting in 1782. It is a huge area containing the Royal residence, government offices, and Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). We did not have time to see much of the palace after touring the wat, although we were able to walk through the grounds to see the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall (photo above).
The great attraction of the palace compound is the Wat Phra Kaeo. It is as impressive a temple as we have seen here, with many buildings of different syles and decoration. It was difficult to decide which photos to include in this article, as there are so many picturesque sights within the temple area.
You enter the wat to a number of sights that together are overwhelming. First is this fellow sitting in front of the bot (temple) which houses the Emerald Buddha. Each of the entrances is protected by giant guards (photo #2). The bot is surrounded by 112 gilded garuda, (mythical beasts that are half-human and half bird), each holding nagas (serpents).
To your left as you enter is the Phra Si Ratana Chedi, which is said to contain a piece of the Buddha's breastbone. This chedi is really impressive. It is huge and covered in gold leaf, so it is visible from some distance away. On the upper terrace, next to the chedi, are bronze statues representing the white elephants from the first five reigns of the Chakri dynasty (photo #3). The Royal Pantheon is adjacent to the chedi. It was undergoing renovation during our visit, as were a number of the other structures within the wat. This golden prang is surrounded by workers installing an elaborate scaffolding.
Surrounding the wat are a series of 178 murals depicting scenes from the Ramakian story (photo #4). The murals are separated by marble pillars inscribed with details of the story. The text is in Thai, and we could not read it. The murals were originally painted at the end of the 18th century, but have been frequently renovated due to damage from moisture in this tropical climate.
The wat is filled with beautiful sights everywhere you turn. Here are a few of the many things that we found to be interesting or photogenic:
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