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Historic as is Legendary, the Golden and Proud Pha That Luang is Laos’ National Monument

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Learn more about the city by uncovering facets about its main structure. Pha That Luang stands out in the city, so much so that it has earned the title of national symbol, amongst many in the city and country. Delve in and discover more about this iconic golden beauty.

Legends of the pagoda dates back to the 3rd century. It was built by Indian missionaries with the purpose of safely securing a piece of the Buddha’s breastbone. Excavations have uncovered the pagoda being built by the Khmers as a monastery in the 12th century, which eventually fell into ruin.

The first restoration project occurred in the mid-16th century when King Setthathirat moved the capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. The finished work and stupa impressed many, including Western visitors.

The ongoing skirmishes between Laos, Myanmar and Siam left the pagoda vulnerable. In 1828, a Siamese army invaded the capital and left Pha That Luang in a heavily damaged state. It was not until the early 1900’s that restoration work on the stupa began, which eventually brought the stupa back to its former glory. The architecture includes many references to Buddhism as well as Lao culture and identity, which made it the obvious choice as national symbol.

The main spire may look like a pyramid from a distance but is actually slightly curved. It is 45 meters in height and is surrounded by 30 smaller stupas. Pha That Luang is surrounded by a cloister roughly 85 meters long on each side and contains a large number of Lao and Khmer statues, including one of a meditating Jayavarman VII.  The area is also an art gallery, with fine displays of paintings by local artists.

The city has a relaxing aura to it. Its position on the banks of the Mekong certainly helps. See what the city has to offer as you explore the capital and discover its much talked about charm in a full day tour. Fittingly end the day at the banks of the Mekong as you watch the sun set down into the horizon.

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