Wat Mahathat is the common short name of several important Buddhist temples (wat) in Thailand.
The name means "Temple of the Great Relic", as these temples always contain a relic of Buddha.
While there are several temples named Wat Mahathat, their full names are usually unique.
Built during Ayutthaya period, the temple was then known as Wat Salak. Soon after Bangkok was established as the capital of Siam, the temple became strategically situated in between the newly-built Grand Palace and Front Palace (residence of the vice-king). As a result, the temple was used for royal ceremonies and funerals.
Throughout the past two centuries, the temple has been renovated and elevated in status by many Thai kings and royalties. It became the Wat Mahathat of Bangkok in 1803 and was given its current name in 1996.
Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, Thailand's oldest higher education institute for Buddhist monks, is located within the temple.