The three bell-shaped chedis of Wat Phra Si Sanphet have practically become a symbol of Ayutthaya. The temple stands almost in the center of the main area of the old capital, bordering the southern side of the former palace grounds. It's easy to imagine the grand structure as some sort of state temple.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet may have been built by King Boromatrailokanat in 1448, although there is ample evidence that it existed earlier. It was reportedly one of the grandest temples in the ancient capital, and it is still one of the best preserved on the island. The temple took its name from the large standing Buddha image erected there in 1503. The image stood 16 meters (53 feet) tall and was covered with more than 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of gold. The Buddha was smashed to pieces and the gold melted down when the Burmese sacked the city. King Rama I collected the remaining bronze pieces and placed them in a chedi at Wat Po in Bangkok.
The three large chedis were built to contain the ashes of King Boromatrailokanat and his two sons, King Ramathibodhi and King Boromatrailokanat II. They are considered typical of the Ayutthaya style, and several replicas of them have been built in Bangkok, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The three stupas were surrounded by a large cloister with lines of smaller chedis placed near the outer wall. At one end of the line formed by the three chedis is the remains of a smaller chapel with a now headless Buddha image. The graceful curves achieved with ordinary bricks is quite interesting to see.
Around back of the three chedis, many of the small chedis along the outer wall have been toppled over. Though unfortunate, this does give you a rare opportunity to see the details of the top finials up close.
The temple was originally connected directly to the royal palace (Wang Luang), but the Burmese leveled the palace buildings right to the ground. The early Bangkok kings had most of the bricks hauled off to build the new capital.
There is a fee of 50 Baht (1.30 USD) to enter the grounds of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.