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Bangkok’s “David Beckham Temple” Is One of the World’s Weirdest Religious Buildings

Wat Pariwat, in Bangkok, Thailand, gets its famous nickname – “David Beckham Temple” – from a gold-plated statue of the English former football player holding up a statue of Buddha. But that’s just one of the unexpected characters you’re bound to notice visiting this unusual holy place.

David Beckham’s statue was installed at Pariwat Temple in 1999, when the sculptor, who happened to be a die-hard Manchester United fan, was allowed to include it as a permanent temple decoration as a symbol of his love for the club. It has since become famous all over the world and has even given the temple its nickname. But this statue isn’t all that’s unusual about this Buddhist temple, not even close. Among Buddhist-themed artworks and representations of mythical creatures, you’ll notice some characters that don’t quite belong, like Batman or Albert Einstein…

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As you walk around Pariwat Temple, you may be forgiven for failing to notice the statue of a rabbit-like creature holding a smartphone on a selfie stick, or that of Dragon Ball Z’s Mater Roshi, which may be confused with a legendary Buddhist figure. Heck, you might even ignore the yellow statue of Pikachu with its zig-zag tail, but there is no way that any of the mosaic depictions of modern superheroes like Spider-Man, Batman or Captain America won’t catch your eye.

 

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Once you start noticing the unusual characters at this Bangkok Buddhist temple, it’s like they are everywhere. There is Popeye the Sailor in a corner flanked by two completely unrelated mythical creatures, Batman is hiding behind a green column, Spider-Man is ready to shoot webs out of his wrists, and even Monkey D. Luffy, from hit manga and anime series One Piece.

 

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At one point, you start believing that Pariwat Temple is dedicated to various cartoon characters and superheroes, but then you see a bust of Albert Einstein and a statue of Ernesto Che Guevara, and that theory goes out the window. Let’s not forget that golden statue of young David Beckham. In reality this is just an eclectic mix of modern pop art, Buddhism and traditional Thai art that looks unlike anything else in the world.

 

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Some sources claim that all these statues of superheroes and personalities were included because they are considered symbols of good and they could protect Buddhism. I don’t get how that relates to Popeye or Pinocchio, but ok… Personally, I find the explanation according to which these unusual cast of characters was included as a draw for tourists much more believable.

 

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So if you ever want to check out a Thai Buddhist temple unlike any other, stop by Pariwat Temple, at 2-67 Rama III Road, Bangkok. It’s really quite something…

 

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