Wat Mahathat is typical of the Ayutthaya ruins: large crumbling stupas surrounded by low laterite walls and rows of headless Buddhas. One Buddha-head is in a tree trunk.
According to tradition, Wat Mahathat was built in 1384 by King Rachatirat to house a relic of the Buddha, but it is more likely it was built during the reign of King Boromaraja I (1370-88).
In about 1625 the top portion of the prang broke off; it was rebuilt in 1633 some 4 m (13 ft) higher than before. Later it collapsed again, and only the corners survived.
In 1956 a secret chamber was uncovered in the ruins; among the treasures found inside were gold jewelry, a gold casket containing a relic of the Buddha, and fine tableware.
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