The Temples of Luang Prabang
Visit the royal capital of Luang prabang through its Buddhist tradition
Wat Xieng Thong
The Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important temples in Laos. It is located at the end of the peninsula at the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Khan River. It was formerly known as the Temple of the Golden City and was considered as a gateway to the city. It was built around 1560 by King Setthathirat, who ruled from 1548 to 1571 in memory of the legendary King Chanthaphanith, whose stories are represented inside the main building. The wat Xieng Thong was completely renowated. This magnificent temple is located in a peaceful environment among very old banyan trees, palms, frangipani, scarlet flamboyant and purple bougainvillea. Its classic style with all its sanctuaries and chapels provides an aura of serenity.
Wat Sene Souk Haram or literally “Temple of 100,000 treasures” is one of the most beautiful temples in Luang Prabang. It was built in 1714 by Tia Tiao, during the reign of King Kithsarat (1707-1725). The restoration work was carried out in 1930 and again in 1957 to celebrate 2,500 years since the birth of Buddha. In the chapel on the side one can admire a large Buddha statue standing with a drum.
Wat Pak Khan
Its name comes from its location at the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Khan River. It was built by Phagna Chanthep under the reign of King Inta Som (from 1727 to 1776) and rebuilt in the early 20th century. The main entrance has a door with two small doors on each side. Noteworthy are The two representations of Rama on the central panels carrying crowns in equilibrium, with Hanuman kneeling representing a dance with graceful movement.
Wat Long Khoun
Wat Longkhoun was built in the 18th century. At first it was always regarded as a place for meditation rather than a place for worship, but during King Anoulou Manthaturat’s era in the 19th century, it was firmly established as the temple for meditation. In the past kings would spend three days here before attending the coronation ceremony at Wat Xieng Thong.
Wat Phra Phome - Phao Santi Chedi
This bell-shaped stupa at the top of an octagonal structure with verandas, three kilometers from Luang Prabang, shines in the sunset above the Nam Khan River. This “forest style” Wat is simple and unadorned, but seems evocative of a spiritual distance that its thin golden arrow and the elevation of the hexagonal roof evoke in the middle of the misty forest around it. It was built with donations from people living in Laos and abroad its construction began in 1959 and was completed in 1988. The names of the donors, are inscribed on the pillars inside.
Wat that Chomsi (Phousi hill)
To reach the top of Mount Phousi, there are 328 steps to climb through lush vegetation. It was built by King Anourat (1791-1817) and finally restored in 1914. At new being restored, it presents interesting murals painting. There are spectacular views of the entire city, the Mekong and the mountains of very great beauty at sunset.
This would be one the first Wat built inLuang Prabang. It was built in 1527, but the current building is a reconstruction dating from 1818. It houses two very old banyan trees that are revered as spiritual sanctuaries sheltering the protector of the royal spirit, the Haw Phi Khon. He was regarded as the center of worship of the guardians of Luang Prabang, the Devata Luang spirits : Phou Gneu and Gna Gneu whose masks and dancing are always present at ceremonies including the Lao New Year.
This is the oldest standing temple in Luan Prabang, originally erected in 1512 by King Phothisarat and rebuilt in 1898. The carved wooden railings in the temple’s windows are reminiscent of the Vat Phou temple in the south of Laos. Inside you can admire ancient statues and steles. Also located on the grounds of this temple is the That Pathoume, also known as That Mak Mo, (the watermelon stupa) because of its shape.
Wat Chom Phet
Located across the Mekong River to the north of Ban Xieng Mene, wat Chomphet is built on the top of a hill and offers stunning views of Luang Prabang Town and the Mekong. The temple was built in 1888, and although in poor condition (it is currently being renovated) the dragon and bird representations that adorn the walls and ceilings have retained their mystical powers.
Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham
It is one of the most magnificent and impressive temples in Luang Prabang. Built in 1788, it took 70 years to finish. It housed the Buddha Pra Bang in gold between 1894 and 1947. Wat Mai means “New Monastery” and it is here that Pra Sangkharat, the highest Buddhist dignitary in Laos, resided from 1894. Its restoration was held in 1821 during the reign of King Man-Thatourat (1817-36). During the New Year celebrations, the statue of the Buddha Pra Bang is transported from the Royal Museum (National Museum) to Wat Mai for the three-day annual cleaning ritual.
It is an important place for the dances that accompany the ceremonies of the New Year celebrations and the Phou Gneu and Gna Gneu. According to historians, this temple was built on marshes where a legendary dragon lived, it is apparently the oldest Buddhist site of Luang Prabang dating back to the occupation of the Khmers during the period of the empire Khmer. Five stone statues representing Buddha were found near the temple dating back two centuries before the reign of King Fa Ngum. It was built in 1527 by King Photthisarat, and restored in 1909.
This was originally a wooden temple which dated back to the 17th century, known as Wat Keo. The word Keo designates Vietnamese people. Wat Phabatthai is honored by LuangPrabang’s small Vietnamese community as their temple with services in Vietnamese and Lao. There is a huge Buddha footprint, an important object of veneration, in the ground and at the far western end of the temple there are steps leading to the Mekong river. The sunset is absolutely breathtaking from this spot.
The Houng Chanh house is part of a desire to maintain the Architectural Tradition and rehabilitation of the district. The walkway in front of the house was at the time a way of the “Phou Nheu and Nha Nheu”. Ministering geniuses of the city of Luang Prabang, during the Lao New Year “Pi Mai”.
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