This is the famous site with the Buddha’s head inside of a tree. It almost looks like the tree is giving birth to him. Locals like to say that the tree lifted it off the ground since it was so holy. Wat Mahatat is perhaps the most historically relevant ruin in Ayutthaya, however with the central prang collapsed it is hardly worth the 30 THB admission price. Most of the structure can be seen from the outside gate. There are some very unique chedis here, but the main highlight remains the Buddha’s head in the tree.
There is evidence of early settlement at this site prior to King U-Thong’s arrival in 1350. However, its construction has been recorded as starting in 1374 with completion in 1388. King Borom Rajathiraj I (1370-1388) founded this temple as the city’s spiritual center. It served as the monastery for the Supreme Patriarch of a forest-sect of Buddhism. The temple was finished during King Ramasuan’s second reign (1388-1395).
Wat Mahatat has had a rough history. The 38-meter high prang collapsed during King Song Tham’s reign (1610?-1628). King Prasat Thong (1629-1656) restored it to the highest monument in Ayutthaya’s history – a record breaking 51 meters. The Burmese set it on fire in 1767, and it collapsed for a second and final time in 1904 (though some sources claim it was actually in 1911). Looters severely plundered it from 1920 to1950, including the police hired to protect it. One local folk story is that the police actually destroyed it with dynamite while they were looking for treasure.