Ayutthaya – “City of Kings”

By | June 18, 2013

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The Kingdom of Ayutthaya was born out of the gradual demise of the Sukhothai kingdom which was the foundation of the Thai nation, as little was known about the kingdoms prior to the Sukhothai Period .

Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam (Thailand) from the 14th century until the latter part of the 18th century. For more than 400 years, Ayutthaya was the center of commerce, trade, culture and the ruling city of Siam. 
The city was founded by King U Thong in 1351 to flee from an epidemic threat in Sukhothai, north of Ayutthaya. The end of this first Thai Kingdom came in 1365 when it was degraded into a vassal state of Ayutthaya, the young and rising power to the south, the name Ayutthaya meant “City of Kings” & by the 17th century it was the richest city in the whole of South East Asia.

In 1767 the city of Ayutthaya was completely destroyed being burned to the ground by the Burmese who had laid siege to the city for some 14 months, all of its old temples and palaces were ransacked and left in ruins. From the destruction of Ayutthaya the new powerbase of Thailand was born “Krung Thep Mahanakhon” which later became Bangkok!. 

Ayutthaya - The “Ayutthaya Historical Park”contains the ruins of ancient Buddhist temples and royal palaces in a well-organized city plan. Although a shadow of its former glory, the magnificent ruins of the old city can still be admired.

Attractions include the ruins of the former Royal Palace,the recently restored Royal Elephant Kraal & Village and many ancient temples, which form a complex spread over the vast area of the historical park. In 1991 the city of Ayutthaya was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

If you want to get a much better understanding of Thailand’s roots & culture then a visit to Ayutthaya is a “must”.The city is around 90 kilometers north of Bangkok and about an hour’s drive away.

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The city does not have the hurly-burly of fast-paced Bangkok or the tourist-infested beaches of the Andaman Coast. The city is quite relaxing in its old-world splendor and unhurried pace.

Ayutthaya has a lot to offer in terms of Thai culture and heritage as there are numerous temples, though some are in ruins, that areStill Worth Visiting .

The Wat Mahathat was a royal monastery during the reign of King Borommarachathirat 1. It was the seat of the Sangaraja, the figure head of the Kamavasi Buddhist monks.Its famous for the Buddha image head intertwined in the roots of a tree.

Wat Phra Ram is one of the oldest temples in Ayutthaya. It was built in the site where King U Thong was cremated. The high entrances to the temple were built to accommodate ceremonial elephants.

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Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the largest temple in Ayutthaya used by royalties for their religious ceremonies. A 16-foot golden Buddha once graced the temple but it was melted by the Burmese in the 18th century because it was covered with 340 kilogram of gold.

Wat Ratchaburana stands out because of its newly renovated prang. Visitors can climb up the prang for a better view.

Other temples are the Wat Phra Ram, Wat Phu Khao Thong, Wat Phanancherng, just to name a few. The Chao Sam Phraya National Museum is worth visiting to see displays of relics of Lord Buddha and 500 year-old arts.

Getting to Ayutthaya is easy as numerous modes of transports are available. The most convenient is a train ride from Bangkok’s Hua LamphongTrain Station directly to Ayutthaya.

If you have been to Ayutthaya before, and have really great memories of places to stay, visit,or just fun things that happened, please share your Ayutthaya Memories here.