,is a former Buddhist temple located in the heart of historic Ayutthaya not farfrom the old royal palace. It is one of the most famous sites in theAyutthaya HistoricalPark .Wat Mahathat is best known
for the photogenic Buddha’s head embedded in the trunk of
a banyan tree. The well-preserved face with a serene look leaves a lasting impression.Experts believe that the sandstone head either fell from a statue and landed in the tree orwas left there by a thief who could not haul it away. Although most visitors come to seethe famous head, the temple itself is just as interesting.
The temple served as the religious center of the Ayutthaya Kingdom and was the seat of the supreme Buddhist patriarch of Siam(earlyThailand). It once housed relics capturedduring military campaigns inCambodiaand elsewhere. During the annual
(royalbarge) ceremony, the Ayutthaya kings sailed in a procession of barges down a canal fromthe palace to the temple, where they would disembark, pray, and make offerings to thegods.Wat Mahathat was one of the largest and most important temple complexes in theAyutthaya Kingdom. Historical records indicate that it was either built by KingUthong(Ramathibodhi I, 1350-69), KingBorommaracha I(1370-88), or KingRamesuan(1388-95). The site fell into disrepair in the 1630s and 1730s before the Burmese razed it in1767. Many of the
(spires) collapsed after years of decay.Efforts have been underway since 1956 to preserve the site.LikeWat Chaiwattanaram,theKhmer-styleWat Mahathat was built in the shape of five-pointed structure(quincunx)with a large central