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Many visitors pass through this town since it is an important transport hub, connecting Bangkok and the Central Plains to Northern Thailand.

There has been a settlement here from as early as the mid- 14th century, when Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat was built on the bank of the Nan River. Initially, this wat complex, also called Wat Yai, probably housed a Sukhothai lotus-bud chedi, which was later replaced by the tall Ayutthayan prang that can be seen today. It was built by the Ayutthayan king Borommatrailokanat (1448–88), who ruled from Phitsanulok after 1463 in order to wage a military campaign against the Kingdom of Lanna. The golden tiles on the antefixes of the wat were added during a later renovation by King Chulalongkorn (1868–1910).

Inside the west wihan is the revered Buddha image Phra Phuttha Chinarat, made of gilded bronze and dating from the 14th century. It attracts pilgrims from all over Thailand, and, consequently, a small industry of religious paraphernalia has grown up around it. In the gallery outside the prang are dozens of Buddha images. Across the road, in the bot of Wat Ratchaburana, are some faded 19th-century murals, depicting scenes from the Ramakien. Sergeant Major Thawee’s Folk Museum houses a collection of rural folk crafts – wood and bamboo animal traps, farm tools, and basketry. Across the street is the affiliated Buddha Foundry, where visitors can watch bronze Buddha images being forged.


Three miles (5 km) south of Phitsanulok is the Ayutthayan, laterite prang of Wat Chulamani. It was built by King Borommatrailokanat in 1464, a year after he moved his capital from Ayutthaya to Phitsanulok. He was ordained as a monk here in 1465 after abdicating in favor of his son. Eight months later he returned to the throne; until his death in 1488, he ruled Ayutthaya from Phitsanulok.

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