There are a great many historic landmarks in Bangkok, but one that stands above the rest of them must surely be the magnificent four-winged towers known as the Democracy Monument or Anu Sawari Pracha Tippatai. It occupies a traffic circle on the wide Rajadamnoen Boulevard, which is only a short walk from the backpacker's mecca on Khao San Road.
Other places of interest in the near vicinity include the Golden Mount and the multi-layered metal pagoda of Loha Prasat at Wat Rachanadda. It's possible to visit the Golden Mount, the Loha Prasat, Khao San Road and the Democracy Monument all on the same day.
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Democracy Monument was designed by the Italian sculptor Corrado Feroci, (1892 - 1962) who took the name Silpa Bhirasi before taking Thai citizenship. Just to put you in the bigger picture, it was a heck of a lot easier for a foreigner to become a Thai citizen in the early twentieth century than it is today.
Silpa Bhirasi is still honoured as much today as he was when first invited to come to Thailand in 1923 to teach western sculpture at the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Palace Affairs. He went on to become the founder of Silpakorn University and is also considered the father of the modern Thai art movement.
The monument was built in 1932 to commemorate the transition from absolute to constitutional monarchy and now serves as a memorial to all those who had died during violent times in Thailand. Over the years and spilling into the present day, there seems to be no end to shaking off all the notorious political rallies that continue to plague the country. It's always been expected that political unrest would some day soon come to an end. I suspect that would be wishful thinking.
On close inspection of the structure, you will notice that the monument has four curved 24 metre (79 feet) high wing-like towers that arch inward. In the centre sits a three metre, ten-foot high pedestal representing the third month of the Thai calendar June. It is said to contain a copy of the original 1932 constitution.
There are six swords on each of the six doors of the pedestal representing the six proclaimed policies of the People's Party. They are internal peace, equality, freedom, independence, economics and education. It is hopeful that these policies will one day be reached.
There was once a ring of 75 cannons at the base of the monument symbolic of the Buddhist year 2475 and equivalent to the year AD 1932. Every one of these features symbolises the date when the constitutional monarchy was established on 24th June 1932.
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