Wat Mahathat was the spiritual center of the Sukhothai Kingdom. The central chedi was founded by Si Intharathit (c.1240–70), first king of Sukhothai, and rebuilt in the 1340s by Lue Thai (1298–1346) to house relics of the Buddha. Buildings were added to the complex by successive kings: by the time it was abandoned in the 16th century it had some 200 chedis as well as numerous wihans and mondops.
At the epicenter of the wat complex is this classic Sukhothai lotus-bud chedi. The remains of beautiful stucco decoration can be seen in patches.
Frieze of Walking Monks
A stucco frieze runs around the square base of the central group of chedis. It depicts monks processing around the shrine – a ritual called pradaksina.
Phra Attharot Buddha Images
Flanking the central chedis are two Buddhas, both known as Phra Attharot – a literal reference to their size – housed in mondops.
Remains of Wihan
Aligned on an east-west axis with the central group of chedis is the main wihan. The only remains today are columns that once supported a roof and a seated Buddha image.
Remains of Bot
To the north of the central chedi are the remains of a bot, with a large, seated Buddha. Like all major Buddha images in Thailand, it faces east.