Ayutthaya, a former capital

Ayutthaya is one of Thailand's travel highlights, just 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) from north of Bangkok. From its establishment in 1350 by King U Thong until its fall to the Burmese in 1767, Ayutthaya was Thailand's capital, home to 33 kings and numerous dynasties. At its zenith and until the mid-18th century, Ayutthaya was a majestic city with three palaces and 400 temples on an island threaded by canals. The former capital rivaled European cities in splendor and was a source of marvel for foreigners.

Then, in 1767, after a 15-month siege, the town was destroyed by the Burmese. Today there is little left but ruins and rows of headless Buddhas where once an empire thrived. The temple compounds are still awe-inspiring even in disrepair, and a visit here is memorable and a good starting point for those drawn to the relics of history.

The architecture of Ayutthaya is a fascinating mix of styles. Tall, ornate spires called prangs point to ancient Khmer (Cambodian) influence (best seen in Bangkok at Wat Arun). These bear a resemblance to the architecture of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The pointed stupas are ascribed to the Sukhothai style.


Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre: With an area of 285 rai (or 14 acres), the Centre is located in Tambon Bung Yai, Amphoe Bang Sai. Farmers from Ayutthaya as well as from other provinces undergo training in folk arts and crafts here. At this centre, you will have a glimpes of how farmers in the four regions live and work ; how their products of arts and crafts are produced. The centre is under the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques (SUPPORT) which was established under Royal Patronage on the 21st July, 1976. Products and activities which can be seen here are Fern Vien Basketry, Weaving Basketry, Artificial Flowers, Hand - Woven Silk and Cotton, Silk Dyeing, Wood Carving, Miniature Hand - Modelled Thai Dolls, Furniture Making, Cloth - Made Products... All the products are sold at the Centre and in every branch of Chitralada Store.

Royal Folk Arts at BangSai

Wat Phra Si Sanphet is a largest temple in Ayutthaya, known for its row of chedis (Thai-style stupas). Housed within the grounds of the former royal palace, the temple was used only for royal religious ceremonies. It once housed a 16-meter Buddha covered with 340 kg of gold, but the Burmese set fire to the statue to melt the gold and destroyed the temple in the process. The royal palace can also be accessed from the same entrance at Wat Phra Si Sanphet, but it only has a few free standing buildings remaining.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit is an impressive building that houses a large bronze cast Buddha image. It was originally enshrined outside the Grand Palace to the east, but it was later transferred to the current location and covered with a Mondop. During the second fall of Ayutthaya, the building and the image were badly destroyed by fire. The building currently seen was renovated but does not have as beautiful craftsmanship as the previous ones. The open area east of the Sanctuary (Wihan) was formerly Sanam Luang, where the royal cremation ceremony took place.

Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit

Wat Phra Mahathat is a large temple that was quite thoroughly ransacked by the Burmese, and it also is part of the World Heritage site in the old city. Apart from the famous Buddha head in the roots of a Bodhi Tree the site is somewhat disappointing. Most of the original chedi and brickwork are decayed and there are only a few Buddha statues that have survived the test of time. When taking pictures of you and the Buddha head, make sure you sit on your knees to show respect, as it is considered holy by Thais

Wat Phra Mahathat
Buddha head in tree

Wat Thammikarat: This temple is located in front of the royal palace of Ayutthaya. According to the chronicle of the north, this was founded by Phraya Thammikarat, a son of King Sainam Phung before the Ayutthaya period. Important monuments which may be found inside the temple are: the chapel which used to enshrine a huge bronze Buddha image (now on displayed at the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum); a bell-shaped chedi; an ordination hall; and a hall housing a reclining Buddha image. All these monuments areof the Ayutthaya style of the 14th to the 17th century.

Bell-shaped chedi in Wat Thammikarat
Wat Thammikarat

Phra Chedi Suriyothai: is a white and gold coloured chedi built as a memorial to a previous queen. Set in a small, well-kept gardens, it is the memorial for the first heroine in Siamese history, is located in Ko Mueang to the west. Among various places of interest within the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park, this ancient place is of much importance as a proof of honour that ancient Siamese society gave to Thai women.

Phra Chedi Suriyothai

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