Wat Sisaket is a Buddhist temple in Vientiane believed to be the oldest in the country. It is unique amongst the capital’s temples in that it still retains its original structure and has not been re-modeled. Although officially a museum, Wat Sisaket is also a monastery, with monks and novices residing there.
Compared to the city’s newer temples, Wat Sisaket looks like a modest wooden building. Much of the paint has been weathered off, leaving a simple brown as the primary color of the temple.
Wat Sisaket was constructed in 1818 by King Anouvong and finished in 1824. It was built using the Siamese architectural design with a surrounding terrace and a five-tiered roof instead of a Laotian design. This may have saved the temple from destruction when the Siamese invaded the city in 1827.
The temple features a square cloister which encloses the ordination hall. This is a common feature in Thai temples but is rare in Lao designed ones. The defining feature of Wat Sisaket is its thousands of small niches in the outer wall. Each of these holes contains a pair of small Buddha images. There are over 10,000 of them in the temple with larger Buddha statues placed on shelves in front of the wall. Some of these figures date as far back as the 15th century.
Scenes of the jataka tales (stories regarding Buddha’s previous births) are painted inside the ordination hall. These murals depict an unusual story regarding Prince Pookkharabat who chose an honest thief as his chief minister and defeated enemy armies with a magic fan.
The former library is situated west of the monastery. A massive cabinet that once held Buddhist manuscripts and books is housed here. Although now faded, it was once appointed in black lacquer and gold designs. Behind the library lies a dirt path lined with stupas containing the ashes of cremated temple devotees.
One of the prime attractions of Vientiane is Wat Sisaket. It is truly one of the most beautiful temples in the capital, and is definitely worth a visit. Exotissimo’ s Vientiane City Tour – Full Day trip will take you to many of the city’s most interesting sites, starting off with a visit to Laos’ longest standing temple. Just outside of Vientiane lies a world of natural beauty, stunning vistas, and magnificent wildlife. If you have a knack for some adventure in Laos’ capital, then we recommend our Vientiane Natural Escape Soft Adventure tour. This tour is a great way to experience the local culture and explore the country’s diverse ecosystem. You can also see our suggested Laos tour page for other unforgettable trips into this wonderful country.
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