Temple of the Emerald Buddha: Wat Phra Kaeo - Jim Wageman

The Emerald Buddha is Thailand's most highly revered symbol. Said to have been discovered in 1434 at Chiang Rai, in the far north near the Laotian border, it was at some point removed to Laos, where it remained for over 200 years before being recovered by Thailand's King Rama I, in 1778. Soon after its recovery, Rama I ordered that a temple be built on the grounds of Bangkok's Grand Palace as a royal chapel to enshrine the image. To this day, members of the royal family preside over major national Buddhist observances at the temple, which is in effect the spiritual heart of the Thai kingdom and the Thai people.