Wat Si Saket is the capital city’s oldest surviving monastery. It was built from 1819 to 1824 by King Anou. According to history, the temple was the place where Lao lords and noblemen came together to swear loyalty to the King. In 1828, when the Siamese armies attacked Vientiane, they spared this temple after seeing that it was built in a style comparable to Thai temples. The French then restored the temple in the year 1924 and again in year 1930.
The most striking feature of the temple is a rough square cloister that encloses the sim or the main ordination hall. The hall is a common feature of many large Thai temples but is not often seen in many Lao temples. Inside the sim, the walls are seen from eye-level and are painted with scenes from the jataka. Jataka is a series of stories that depict the past lives of Buddha. Sadly, because of time, the murals on the walls are badly deteriorating and there seem to be no plans to conserve the delicate walls. The outer gallery of the ordination hall, on the other hand, is lined with inward leaning columns all with 12 corners. It is then topped by meticulously carved wooden brackets and designs. [Read more…]