History of Wat Ho Phra Keo
The wat was built on the grounds of the royal palace in 1565 - 1566 by the mandate of King Setthathirath after the capital was moved from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. The temple used to be a place of worship for King Setthathirath. The name of Wat Ho Phra Keo means “Altar of the Emerald Buddha” because of the existence of the Emerald Buddha statue which was brought from Chiang Mai and carved from a single jade stone. However, later, it was taken to Thonburi in Bangkok, Thailand. Wat Ho Phra Keo was destroyed twice in 1779 and 1828. Then, it was rebuilt by King Anouvong in 1816 and by the French between 1936 and 1942. The remaining structures of the old temple were bases for the reconstruction. It was converted into a museum in the 1970s and was restored again in 1993.
Highlights of Wat Ho Phra Keo
The surrounding of the wat is a garden with colourful flowers, lush green grass and small statues among the shady trees. An outstanding item in the garden is a 2,000 year old stone jar from the Plain of Jars.
The architecture of Bangkok rococo style is considered as the most attractive feature although it is not the same with the design of the original temple. The main ordination hall’s roof has some tiers adorned with mythical Naga snake and and “Dok so faa” at the center. The arcades are decorated with a large number of bronze statues of Buddha and some other religions, various Khmer stone and wood carvings. The main entrance is a stairway with a Naga. The gable comes with images of Buddha and a three head elephant in yellow color on a red background.
Next to the main ordination hall is a gallery and small gift shop. Its veranda is covered by Buddhist sculptures of Laos. There is a big wooden box which used to contain the Tripitaka and the palm leaf manuscripts of Buddha’s teachings. Moreover, visitors can find numerous Lao treasures such as a gilded throne, a bronze frog drum in this gallery.
On the terrace displays a wealth of Buddha statues consisting of stone ones dating from the 6th to 9th century and some bronze ones of later periods.
Opening Hours and Price to Wat Ho Phra Keo
The temple opens for tourists every day from 8:00 to 12:00 in the morning and from 13:00 to 16:00 in the evening. The price of entrance is 5,000 kips.