Phitsanulok, the provincial capital of the lower north, is rich in historic sites. In the old days people called Phitsanulok Muang Song Kwae, the town of the two rivers, due to the fact that there are two rivers running through the town. Mae Nam Nan, the Nan River, flows past the heart of the town. On one of its banks is an ancient temple from the Sukhothai period, Wat Phra Sri Ratana Mahathat Wora Vihara, which houses a splendid large bronze Buddha Image, Phra Buddhajinarach.
The statue, cast in the Sukhothai style, is revered throughout Thailand and is known as the most gracious Buddha image in the world. Every year in February people from all over the country join a major religious celebration here at this important temple. Another event that attracts thousands of visitors to Phitsanulok is the annual Boat Race which takes place on the Nan River in mid-September.
Phitsanulok is also historically significant in that it is the birthplace King Naresuan the Great. His father, Maha Thammaracha, was the viceroy of Phitsanulok in the 16th century during the Ayuthaya period. The Great King did a great for Siam (the ancient name for Thailand) during his reign. He fought many battles on elephant back against the insurgent Burmese and later declared Siamís independence from Burma. In summing up King Naresuanís greatness, one could do no better than to quote Professor David K. Wyatt of Cornell University: "That his vision, statecraft, and statesmanship were balanced by military genius and bravery meant that he could create the security upon which the success of his policies depended. The blend of these qualities in an exceptional individual earned him the sobriquet "The Great", shared by only five other monarchs of Siam." (Crescent Press Agency)