Image by John Elk Getty Images
Chiang Mai's oldest temple was established by the city's founder, Phaya Mengrai, sometime around 1296. In front of the ubosot (ordination hall), a stone slab, engraved in 1581, bears the earliest-known reference to the city's founding. The main wí·hăhn (sanctuary) also contains the oldest-known Buddha image created by the Lanna kingdom, cast in 1465.
A smaller second wí·hăhn enshrines the city's guardian images, the bas-relief marble Phra Sila Buddha, believed to have been carved in Sri Lanka more than 1000 years ago, and the tiny crystal Phra Sae Tang Khamani Buddha, reportedly crafted for the king of Lopburi around AD 200.
The sacred images are housed inside a handsome altar resembling a mon·dòp (a spire representing a Thai adaptation of a Hindu shrine) known as a khong phra chao, a distinctive feature of ancient Lanna temples. The monastery has a glorious chedi, with an elephant-flanked stucco base and a gilded upper level.