Ayutthaya is located just 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Bangkok and was the capital of Siam from 1350 to 1767. To this day it remains one of Thailand's best known ancient historical sites. By the fifteenth century, the city grew to over a million inhabitants and became the richest in all of Asia, exporting goods such as ivory, animal skins and rice. Not only did merchants arrive from right across Asia but they also came from as far as Europe and the Middle East.
Unfortunately neighbouring Burmese armies invaded and began battering the city gates before occupying it during the sixteenth century. After a brief period, the then Siamese took control again, only to lose control once more to the Burmese until finally the Siamese was forced to surrender in 1767.
The city was looted and then burned to the ground with much of the population either killed or enslaved. However, most of the monuments were also destroyed and the city lay in ruins and was never re-built. Within a year, the city had become a ghost town and the population was reduced to a mere few thousand.
Did you know that this great city was technically built on an island surrounded by three rivers, Lop Buri, Pa Sak and the Chao Phraya? Today these ruins still stand alone on the western side of the island, while a new modern commercial town has emerged on the eastern side. This special place is steeped in history and is well worth visiting.
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Wat Phra Sri Sanphet is not only one of the largest ancient architectural sites here in this central Thailand city but it also has some of the finest temples ruins. It was originally built in 1491 in honour of three fifteenth-century kings. The three restored chedi now house their ashes. Open daily from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm.
Wat Phra Ram was built in 1369 but later restored during the 15th century and then again in 1941. It is situated across the way from Wat Phra Sri Sanphet in the middle of an island within the Historical Park. The complex consists of a huge towering Prang, some smaller classic style Chedis as well as a few outbuildings.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon has the largest Chedi located outside of the city and was built between 1590 and 1605. If you climb the stairs of the Chedi, you'll be able to see the beautiful gardens as well as a great view of the city. Lots of Buddha statues to see in the temple grounds including a reclining statue.
Wat Phra Mahathat is one of the oldest temple complexes in
Ayutthaya dating back to around 1380. It is also one of the most
beautiful and is spread over a large area. It's hard to imagine what it
must have been like during the prosperous years when first built. The
huge Stupa that you see in the complex originally stood 46 metres (150
feet) tall. However, it did collapse later on.
Wat Chai Watthanaram is a fascinating sight to behold. It was built in 1630 and is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. From here you can get a great view of this remarkable temple complex. This site originally followed the plans of the Hindu Temple at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It has a huge central Stupa which sits on a raised platform surrounded by smaller ones.
Bang Pa-In Royal Summer Place is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River about 20 kilometres (13 miles) downstream from Ayutthaya. The present buildings seen today were built in the late 19th and early 20th-century, though the original site dates back much further.
The complex is beautifully laid out and the charming collection of palaces and pavilions are displayed in a variety of architectural styles including Chinese, Italian and Victorian. The Royal Summer Palace grounds are open daily between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm.
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