Wat Sop Sawan is a defunct monastery located in the western part of Ayutthaya’s city island in the Pratu Chai Sub-district.

The monastery stood on the north bank of Khlong Chang Maha Chai (1), opposite Wat Suan Luang. The old Lopburi River, today the Chao Phraya ran on its west side. Wat Sing was northeast, Wat Noi east, Wat Thamma west opposite the main river.

Wat Sop Sawan is just south of Hua Laem (2), and its premises are now part of the military cantonment, next to Chedi Suriyothai. The football terrain in front of the military barracks was likely the location where the monastery once stood. A large memorial on U Thong Road was constructed in commemoration.


Wat Sop Sawan is translated in Cushman's Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya as the ‘Monastery of the Corpses of Heaven’. The monastery lied adjacent to the Monastery of the Crown Garden (Wat Suan Luang) and is mentioned as one of the defence positions the Siamese occupied during the siege by the Burmese in 1760 CE.

Ex-King Uthumpon (reign 1758 CE) left the monkhood to assist in the defence of the city. The Chronicles recall him doing an inspection of this position and others (on the 14th day of the waning moon in the 5th month) and the giving of specific instructions, after the Burmese fired their canons on the city, damaging buildings and wounding and killing people. King Suriyamarin (reign 1758-1767 CE) ordered to answer the Burmese fire with the large guns in this position and others, on the opposite banks of the river. That evening the Burmese withdrew to the banks at the side of Wat Phukhao Thong. [1]

"When it was the fourteenth day of the waning moon in the fifth month, the Burmese brought up great guns, positioned them at the Monastery of the Royal Gift and at the Monastery of the Ruler, and fired them into the Capital. His Majesty the Holy Lord Omnipotent rode the premier bull elephant Defeater of a Hundred Thousand Troops to look with His own holy eyes at, and to give specific instructions to, the positions at the Monastery of the Crown Garden, the Monastery of the Corpses of Heaven and the Fort of Grand Victory." [1]

We know from the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya that Suan Luang was the location where King Chakkraphat (reign 1548-1569 CE) ordered his wife's body, Chief Queen Suriyothai, brought after she died on the battlefield (2). As the war with the Burmese continued, her body was laid to rest at Suan Luang, waiting for royal cremation. After the Burmese finally, retreated King Chakkraphat ordered the royal funeral rites be held and a stupa and vihara established on the cremation ground. He then named the monastery 'Wat Sop Sawan' in memory of his beloved wife and daughter. [2]

It was more or less customary in the early Ayutthaya period that on the location of the funeral pyre of a royal, a monastery was built and a commemoration chedi erected. It could have been that, on the funeral pyre of Queen Suriyothai and her daughter, Wat Sop Sawan was built and that in the Royal Garden, a funeral monument was constructed to commemorate Queen Suriyothai.

Wat Sop Sawan on the maps:

Engelbert Kaempfer’s sketch and draft map indicate a monastery north of the Rear Palace and separated by a canal. The monastery stood on a location we identify today as Wat Sop Sawan. Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716 CE) was a medical doctor working for the Dutch VOC (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) who surveyed the city of Ayutthaya in June 1690 CE.

Jacques Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772 CE) indicates two monasteries near the Rear Palace separated by a canal on his map named ‘Plan De La Ville De Siam’. A survey of the city was done in 1687 CE in the reign of King Narai (1656-1688 CE). Obviously, these are Wat Sop Sawan and Wat Sanam Luang.

The monastery shows on a 19th century map by an unknown surveyor. Wat Sop Sawan sits on the north bank of Khlong Chang Maha Chai. Wat Sing (defunct) was northeast, Wat Noi (defunct) east, Wat Suan Luang south opposite the canal. The map indicates the existence of a chedi, which at present has disappeared as the ancient monastic complex was levelled to become an army camp. Wat Sop Sawan was located just north of a boat landing called Tha Ruea Ban Jao Phraya Phonlathep in connection with Wat Thamma.

Wat Sop Sawan displays also on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926 CE in an identical position. This map though does not show Wat Noi.

Wat Sop Sawan was located in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 13.63" N, 100° 32' 53.77" E.


(1) Queen Suriyothai was killed by the Viceroy of Prome, when helping her husband, King Chakkraphat out, the latter being in a dangerous battle situation. Prince Ramesuan and Prince Mahin forced their elephants in, but came too late to intervene in the battle of their mother with the Burmese leader. Queen Suriyothai was deadly wounded by the Viceroy of Prome. The two brothers retreated and were able to protect the entrance of the corpse of their mother into the Capital. Also, a daughter of King Chakkraphat and Queen Suriyothai, Princess Boromdilok, died in the battle.


[1] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 34 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph - War With Hongsawadi, 1563-1564.

[2] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 482-3 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum & Reverend Phonnarat - The Burmese Besiege the Capital.