WAT SAPHAN THAN (วัดสะพานถ่าน)
This former monastery was located near the intersection of Chikun Road and
Naresuan Road. The nearest landmark to it would be the
two chedi built for Prince Ai
Phraya and Prince Yi Phraya.
Wat Maha That and Wat Racha Burana are situated west
of this site.

Wat Saphan Than is sometimes mistaken for a monastery known as Wat Chaiyaphum
(also as
Wat Lat). Both were located near the same location, but these are not the same
temple. The two monasteries were once on opposite sides of
Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak,
and moats further separated them.

Wat Saphan Than was located near a brick bridge that crossed Khlong Pratu Khao
Phluak - and this is how it earned its name. A reconstructed portion of this bridge is still
visible, but no trace of this monastery is visible above the ground today. It was partially
destroyed in the process of expanding and paving Naresuan Road. It was also destroyed
when portions of the canal were covered with soil. During the process of this
construction, the head of a Buddha images was uncovered. This now sits on a shrine at a
neighboring household. The shrine can be seen on private property east of the
monastery's original site. The Buddha head is well taken care of and decorated with gold

Wat Saphan Than appears on
Phraya Boran Rachathanin’s 1926 map, but there is little
known about its history. Markets sold charcoal, wood, and coconuts in the vicinity.
Royal Chronicles do not mention a monastery by this name, but they do refer to the
bridge that it was named after.

King Intharacha died in 1424, two of his sons fought for the throne in an area at
the foot of Than Forest Bridge, which is translated as Sapan Than. Prince Ai Phraya set
himself up at the Municipality of Maphrao Forest at the
Chai Pavilion, while his brother
Prince Yi Phraya set himself up at the Chaiyaphum Monastery so as to enter the city by
way of Cao Phrom Market (Cushman 15). Both brothers had their throats torn open at
the same time by war scythes and neither of them survived. A third brother inherited the
throne instead.
Text by Ken May - September 2009
Photographs by Tricky Vandenberg
Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno 1926
Detail of a 19th century map
(Detail of a 19th century map - map is orientated S-N)
(Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno

Wat Saphan Than or the Monastery of the Charcoal Bridge is also indicated on a
map of the mid-19th century. The monastery is here named Wat Pa Than or the
Monastery of the Charcoal Quarter. The monastery was named after the morning and
evening fresh market in its vicinity selling various kinds of fruit and fresh food. The 'Pa'
stands here for a market place or selling area, not for a forest.

On the mid-19th century map, the monastery is curiously enough positioned north of the
road leading from
Wat Maha That towards Pratu Jao Jin on the Front City Canal (an
extension of the ancient Palace Street). The monastery is represented with two chedi on
the map. The position of Wat Pa Than is in contradiction with Phraya Boran
Rachathanin's map, who puts the monastery south of the road and the
Pa Than bridge.

It is curious that the mid-19th century drafter of the map positioned this monastery wrong
within the vicinity of a landmark such as the main road.

Wat Saphan Than must have been approximately located in geographical coordinates:
14° 21' 27.70" N, 100° 34' 10.71" E.
Addendum & maps by Tricky Vandenberg
Updated May 2015
(Buddha head pavilion)
(Buddha head pavilion)
Detail of a 1974 Fine Arts Department map
(Detail of a 1974 Fine Arts Department map -
Courtesy Dr. Surat Lertlum, Chulachomklao Royal
Military Academy)