Wat Ratchabophit is an exquisite temple built in the 19th century by King Rama V in Bangkok, Thailand. The king’s first temple, it was built in order to honor his queen and to house his concubines. Located near the Grand Palace and other Buddhist temples, Wat Ratchabophit’s unique layout has been admired for a couple hundred years.
Wat Ratchabophit has both a prayer hall and a room for priests to be ordained. This part of the building is connected by a courtyard that is circular in shape. The circular courtyard is rarely seen in the design of most Thai temples. A square courtyard is standard and typically houses all of the structures of the temple.
In the middle of the courtyard is a golden chedi, or mound-like structure, that is covered with reddish yellow tiles. There is also a statue of Buddha and windows that are designed with black varnish. Wat Ratchabophit not only has Thai and Sri Lankan influenced architecture, but there are also hints of European inspired design. This comes from the King Rama’s visit to Italy and the ideas that he brought back with him.
The exterior design of the building uses traditional Thai enamel paint that has been done by hand. Beautiful tiles line the buildings and are finished with a shiny glaze. Bright gold and shiny mirrors adorn the windows and doors of the temple.
The western end of Wat Ratchabophit contains the Royal Cemetery. The burial grounds consist of many memorials that honor members of the royal family. The monuments on the royal burial grounds are designed in the shape of miniature cathedrals. There is also a Christian church on the temple land and an area for monks to live. In addition, an area to house damaged and unused Buddha sculptures is near the monks housing unit. The monks are in charge of taking care of the temple and its many memorials.