Phitsanulok has been a strategic cross-roads for early Thai Kings throughout its 600 year history. When the southern Kingdoms of Ayutthaya sought to expand their reach into these central and northern plains, and further up into the northern foothills, they came up against a people called the Lan Na.
They were no pushover. The Lan Na invaded their southern foes multiple times, and upon witnessing the seriousness of the war on his hands in the mid-15th century, King Borommatrailokkanat based himself here, effectively making Phitsanulok the capital of Thailand for around 25 years.
This brief stint as capital improved the patronage of Phitsanulok. King Borommatrailokkanat built Wat Ratchaburana, known for the unusual roof structure of the central Chedis, which is one of the only remaining structure.
Phitsanulok is also famous for being the birthplace of King Naresuan – a king revered for emancipating the Ayutthaya kingdom from the yoke of the Burmese Taungoo Kingdom. King Naresuan’s father, Sanphet the 1st, initially surrendered Phitsanulok to the invading Burmese, making Siam a Burmese tributary state, and taking the young King Naresuan hostage in the Burmese capital of Bago for his youth. But he found his way home, found an army, and found his way into the list of Thailand’s great kings.