The Wat Mahathat or “Temple of the Great Stupa” is one of the more lavish and attractive temples of Luang Prabang. The temple is also known as Wat Phra Mahathat or Wat That is located near the Mekong southwest of Mount Phousi. The temple was built in 1548 during the reign of Setthathirath, king of the Lan Xang kingdom. During a storm in 1900, the Sims collapsed, and other elements were damaged. The temple was restored in the first decade of the 20th century.
Wat Pha Mahathat is named after an old Stupa in Lanna style. The front colonnade of 1910 has wooden windows and a patio, rosette-gilded columns and exterior reliefs reminiscent of the Buddha’s past lives. The magnificent sweeping staircase and the entrance area of Thanon Chao Fa Ngum Road and the silver seven-headed Naga are reminiscent of the more colorful, elaborate and more interminable stairs at Wat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand.