Vientiane, the capital of Laos, was given that spelling by the French who lack a 'ch' sound, this means that the pronunciation is more like 'Vienchee-en'. Here I have few, too few, photographs, and these are restricted to a couple of the most prominent tourist sites, I blame this lack squarely on the... The view through a window of the Patuxai Monument, with its filigree Buddha, looking down on Lang Xang Avenue ...climate of the city - very hot and very humid. It is a compact capital with plenty to arouse the photographer's interest, so another visit to this delightful country is required! Here only its heart, the Patuxai Monument, can be shown, together with nearby religious buildings. Lang Xang Avenue runs towards the Patuxai Monument in central Vientiane. This road has a French feel which suggests the word 'Boulevard', but Avenue takes account of a history and France's unrequested interest in the country. Despite its colonial associations this central Avenue points to a monument not a little reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe - however, it is capped with a typically exuberant Laotian roof Above, looking north-east... ...from the Patuxai Monument. And, above, the view over the... ...pond to the south-west
...which to view the city. It is rumoured that money from the U.S., that was used for its building, had been intended for an airport, hence its nickname 'vertical runway'
The Patuxai Monument was built in 1960s. Because of Laos' turbulent history its commemorative function has drifted through the years from a dedication to soldiers lost in World War II, through a memory to the resistance against the French, to celebrating the overthrow of the monarchy. Given which its position and name (Gate of Triumph) are curiously evocative of their Parisian equivalents. The building's main use is to provide visitors with a splendid height from...
Two of the decorative nine-seater tuk-tuks -
a Laotian speciality
Friend Hân posing
The roof and pinnacle of one of the side turrets on the
roof of the Patuxai
Ceiling of the main 'room' (under the arch) of the Patuxai with its representations of Hindu deities
Turret on Patuxai roof
View from battlements on Patuxai roof
Side gate to the Golden Pha That Luang
King Sethathirath statue. Behind the 44 metre high stupa
The Pha That Luang or Great Golden Stupa is the most important Buddhist monument in a very Buddhist country, but its origins are inevitably clouded. Situated to the north-east of Lang Xang Avenue, it is said to be on the site of a 1st century Hindu temple, which then became a Buddhist shrine in the 3rd century. The form of the present structure was created when Vientiane became the capital of Laos under King Sethathirath - mid 16th century. Covered in gold (although no longer so) it inevitably became the target of pillage. Often destroyed and rebuilt, the present version dates from after World War II.
Buddhas on the Pha That Luang gate
Next to the Pha That Luang is the That Luang Neua Palace...
...and, beside the Palace, this is the Wat That Luang Neua, which acted as a kind of chapel to the palace....
...one of a number of Pagodas and notable buildings that cluster around the Golden Stupa
The Haw Phra Kaew was built as a Buddhist temple, another of King Sethathirath projects, in the 1560s. It lies to the south-west of the Patuxai towards the River Mekong. However, since then it has undergone a number of rebuildings due to wars and invasions, and is said now to have more in common with certain Thai styles than with its original form. The gallery along the side houses the Buddhas seen below. It is now a museum.
Wat Si Saket's roofs can be seen next door
Steps up to the gallery of the Haw Phra Kaew
One of the Buddhas in the gallery row at the Haw Phra Kaew
Just beside the Haw Phra Kaew, shown above, is the entrance to the cloister of Wat Si Saket. This is still a monastery, but no longer a functioning pagoda. It has the distinction of being the oldest surviving Wat in Vientiane and dates from the 1820s. It is said to have been spared, in the Thai invasions, because it looked so Thai. To the left, the monastery's library and stupa, and below, the entrance's intricate roofs
The gallery of the Haw Phra Kaew with its line of Buddhas
The next page in this section will go to a similar sized capital revolving around a central feature, but with a rather different climate - Edinburgh.
The next page
of the Mosaic Section is headed 'Philosophy and Wonder'.
Or go to the
of the Mosaic Section.