The Ancient City of Ayutthaya



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The Ancient City of Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is undoubtedly one of the most culturally and historically interesting towns within easy reach of Bangkok. Accessible by rail, river and road Ayutthaya is a must on any travel itinerary. Founded in the 14th century by King U-Thong, it was the nation?s capital for more than 400 years and was one of the largest municipalities in the world, eclipsing cities like London.

Ayutthaya?s temples are dotted throughout this once glorious city, along the encircling rivers, and in theThe Ancient City Ayutthaya surrounding countryside. At least one full day is needed to fully appreciate the magnitude of the Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the best ways to explore the restored complex of ruins is by pedal power. Renting a bicycle is a peaceful and enjoyable mode of getting up close to the monuments. For a more unique journey of discovery, chartering a long-tail boat allows you to absorb the attractions from a riverine perspective. Principle sights include the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Si Sanphet - the Royal Chapel, and Wat Mahathat ? the Temple of the Great Relic.

To further experience Ayutthaya, visit the Portuguese Village. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive at Ayutthaya in 1511. They also came as military volunteers in the Ayutthaya?s army and as Christian missionaries, and they settled at this site. You will enjoy learning how they live their lives in the old days.

If time permits, visit Bang Pa-In Summer Palace, built on a lake in the middle of the island and first used as a royal retreat in the 17th century or Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Center, a training center offering a glimpse of how farmers in Thailand?s four regions live, work and produce their local arts and crafts products.

Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre at Bang Sai 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, etc. All the products are sold at the Centre and in every branch of Chitralada Store. Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre at Bang Sai

In order to get to Bang Sai, one can take a cruiser or take a bus from the Northern Bus Terminal on Phahonyothin Road, or taking Bang Sai - Sam Khok Road, which branches off about 24 kilometres from Bang Pa - In intersection or take Highway No. 306 (Nonthaburi - Pathumthani Road.) turn right to Amphoe Bang Sai.

Amphoe Muang

Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre
Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre Located on Rochana Road, this centre is a national research institute devoted to the study of Ayutthaya, especially during the period when it was the capital of Thailand. The Centre is responsible for the museum of the history of Ayutthaya, which exhibits reconstructions from the past. The Centre also supports an information service and a library containing historical materials about Ayutthaya.

The Centre is open everyday from 09.00 - 16.30 hrs., official holidays from 09.00-17.00.

Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
This is on Rochana Road, opposite the city wall. It Chao Sam Phraya National Museumhouses various antique bronze Buddha images and famous carved panels. A receptacle at the Thai Pavillion contains relics of Lord Buddha and objects of art more that 500 years old. The museum also has a substantial collection of local artifacts.

The museum is open everyday cxcept Monday, Tuesday and national holidays The museum is open everyday cxcept Monday, Tuesday and national holidays from 09.00 - 16.00 hrs.

Chedi Phra Si Suriyothai ,the memorial for the first heroine in Thai history, is located in Ko Muang 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 Thai society gave to Thai women.

The Ancient City AyutthayaPhra Si Suriyothai was the royal consort of Phra Mahachakkraphat. In 1548, only 7 months after being crowned as king he was challenged by a Burmese attack under the supervision of Phrachao Tabeng Chaweti and his warlord, Burengnong. The Burmese army intruded into the kingdom through the Three Pagoda Pass in Kanchanaburi and came to set up military camps around the royal compond. During the fighting on elephant back, Phra Mahachakkaraphat faced danger. Phra Si Suriyothai, clad in a warrior suit, interrupted the fighting with the intention to provide assistance for her husband. She rode her elephant in the way of Pharachao Prae, a Burmese commander, and was cut to death by his sword. After the end of the war, Phra Mahachakkraphat arranged a funeral and established the cremation site to be a temple named Sopsawan

In the reign of King Rama V, there was a quest for the historical sites as mentioned in the Royal Chronical. The exact location of Wat Sopsawan was identified with a large indented stupa which was renamed by King Rama VI as Chedi Phra Si Suriyothai.

In 1990, the government assigned the Fine Arts Department and the National Security Command to restore the chedi, which had deteriorated over time. Fortunately, on 20 May 1990, some antique objects were found such as a white rock crystal Buddha image in the posture of subduing Mara, a chedi replica, and a golden reliquary. These ancient objects were brought to be under the care of the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.

Elephant Kraal Pavilion The pavilion, utilized as the royal seat to witness the elephant round up, is located 4 kilometres from the city along Highway No. 309. The outlook is a big cage surrounded with logs having, from the front centre, fencing lines of 45 degrees spread out to both sides far away into the jungle area. Around the kraal itself, is an earthen wall with bricks to the height of the pillarsop. Behind the kraal and opposite the front fencing line, is the pavilion housing the royal seat. The Kraal currently seen was renovated in the year 1957.

Fort And Fortress Around The City The forts along the city wall and outer circle fortresses as found in the historical records include Pom Mahachai, Pom Phet, Pom Ho Ratchakhru, Pom Chidkop, Pom Champaphon, Pom Yai, etc. They are mostly situated at waterway intersections.

Japanese Village This is located 1.5 kilometres far from Wat Phanancheong in Tambon Ko Rien. There is an additional building of the Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre, where the foreign affairs of Ayutthaya Period are on exhibition.

Khun Phaen House
Khun Phaen Thai - style house conforms to descriptions in a popular Thai literay work. Khun Phaen house is near Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit.

Mu Ban Protuket is the Portuguese village located in Tambon Samphao Lom, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River and to the south of the city. The Portuguese were the first Europeans who travelled to trade with the Ayutthaya kingdom. In 1511, Al Fonco de Al Buquerq, the Portuguese governor to Asia, dispatched a diplomatic troupe led by Ambassador Mr.Du Arte Fernandes to Ayutthaya during the reign of King Ramathibodi II. After that, some portuguese came to the kingdom for different purposes : trade, military volunteers in the Ayutthaya army, or on a religious mission. They built a church as the centre of their community and to serve religious purposes.

Presently, some traces of former construction have been found at the village site. At the ancient remains of San Petro, a Dominican church, some antique objects were excavated together with human skeletons such as tobacco pipes, coins, and accessories for a religious ceremony.

Suan Somdet Situated on U - Thong Road to the southwest of the city, is a big public park offering various plants referred to in Thai literature and archaeological sites.

Wat ChaiwatthanaramWat Chaiwatthanaram Another monastery that is located on the bank of Chao Phraya River, on the west of the city island. King Prasat Thong commanded it built. The great beauty has been reflected from the main stupa and its satellite stupas along the gallery, an architecture influenced by Khmer. Travelling can be made by river form Chankasem Palace. A long-tailed boat service is available at 300-400 baht for a round trip, consuming about one hour.

Wat Kasat
Ayutthayahirat Worawihan is the monastery located outside Ko Muang, opposite Chedi phra Si Suriyothai, on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. Its former name was Kasattra or Kasattraram. It is an ancient temple of the Ayutthaya period with a main Prang (stupa) as its centre.

Wat Phananchoeng
This monastery located south of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya has no record as to its date of construction or the person causing its construction. It existed before Ayutthaya was founded as the capital. The principal image in the Wihan called 揚hrachao Phananchoeng was built in A.D. 1325 ; it is made of stucco in the attitude of subduing evil ; considered beautiful, it is most revered by the inhabitants of Ayutthaya.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet
This important and most outstanding monastery is located in Grand Palace compound like Wat Phra Si Ratanasatsadaram (Wat Phra Kaeo) of Bangkok. Used as a residential palace, it became a monastery in the reign of King Ramathibodi I. When King Borom Trai Lokanat commanded new living quarters built, this residential palace was given to be a temple area, thus originating Wat Phra Si Sanphet : The royal chapel does not have any monks and novice inhabitants.

Wat Suwandaram Ratchaworawihan is the monastery within the royal compound, located to the southwest on the edge of Pom Phet, an ancient fort. First, it was called 慦at Thong Established in the Ayutthaya period, the monastery was extended and restored several times during the reigns of the Chakri kings. The mural paintings on the upper part of the inside wall of the Ubosot depict the gathering of the deities, and on the lower part, the jataka stories of Wetsandon, Temi, and Suwannasam are described.

The front wall shows a picture of the Buddha subduing evil. Within the Vihara, there is a picture of the bravery of King Naresuan the Great, which is a masterpiece of several copies found in many places.

Wat Yai Chaimongkhon or Wat Chao Phraya Thai This monastery constructed in the reign of King U-Thong is located outside the city to the southeast in the same direction as the railway station ; one can see its large pagodas from far away. King Naresuan the Great commanded the pagoda built to celebrate the victory of his single-handed combat on the elephant back. He also aimed at a huge construction to match the large pagoda of Wat Phukhao Thong, and named it Chedi Chaiyamongkhon
Nakhon LuangAmphoe Nakhon Luang

Prasat Nakhon Luang Situated on the east bank of Pa Sak River, Tambon Nakhon Luang, it was used as the royal accommodation during trips to the Buddha Footprint Shrine and Lopburi. It is assumed to have been constructed during the reign of King Songtham, but was improved to be a brick and plaster accommodation during the reign of King Prasat Thong.

Holland House Information Centre

The Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) founded in 1602 and liquidated in 1795 was the largest and most impressive of the early modern trading companies operating in Asia.The Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) founded in 1602 and liquidated in 1795 was the largest and most impressive of the early modern trading companies operating in Asia. The Dutch government authorised it to conduct trade, erect fortifications, wage wars, appoint governors, keep a standing army and conclude treaties in its name in the Asian trade zone between Iraq and Japan. Dutch VOC-merchants first arrived in Ayutthaya in 1604. The king allowed the Dutch to establish their first trading post in his capital Ayutthaya in 1608.

The VOC were the principal western traders in Siam in those days and bought tin, deerskins, rayskins, sappanwood, rice and many other products in Siam. The Company obtained the right to monopolize the hide business; thus, they were able to make a fortune from exporting hides to Japan. The Dutch were importers of luxery goods into Siam, such as Indian printed and painted textiles, but they also brought in Japanese silver.

The Dutch not only involved themselves in trade but also participated in Siamese society and politics, largely because such participation served their commercial ends. Their records offer a unique insight into 160 years of trade and diplomacy with the Kingdom of Siam. The huge archives of the VOC are an important source for Thai history, as they contain not only information on trade but also on diplomacy, and on the history and sociology of the Kingdom of Siam. The important chronicles by VOC employees such as Joost Schouten, Jeremias van Vliet and Engelbert Kaempfer bear witness of their profound interest in and knowledge of Siam. They are all translated into English and available in Thailand. The 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vingboons produced a number of detailed maps of Ayutthaya (or Judea, as he called it).

By the 1630?s the Dutch received land and permission to build a lodge on the east bank of the Chaophraya river to the south of the city. The two-story structure, enclosed by a stockade, was known to the Dutch as de logie, and to the locals as teuk daeng, the red brick building. The Dutch settlement developed into a separate village. The French priest Nicolas Gervaise wrote that the Dutch quarter on the bank of the Chaophraya river ?is the most elegant and the grandest of all in the Kingdom?. The building was destroyed by the invading Burmese armies in 1767. Before that the Company had moved its personnel and merchandise out of the Kingdom. Currently, only the foundations of the huge brick building remain.

During the celebrations of 400 years of Thai-Dutch relation (2004), H.M. Queen Beatrix and H.R.H. the Prince of Orange, accompanied by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visited the site. H.M. Queen Beatrix donated a royal gift to establish an information centre near the site of the Dutch lodge. The Thai Fine Arts Department excavated the site during 2003-2005 and in 2009-2010 and found many artifacts, such as Chinese porcelain, pottery, Dutch pipes and coins. In close cooperation with the Thai Fine Arts Department construction of the museum has begun in 2010. Construction will be finalized in 2011.
Holland House Information Centre in Ayutthaya

Holland House Information Centre in Ayutthaya

This Holland House Information Centre, and in Thai: Baan Hollanda, aims to educate audiences about the Dutch settlement, how they worked, lived and interacted with Siamese society and court. The goal is to tell the story of the Dutch in Ayutthaya in such a way to make it accessible to the Thai and foreign public. Together with the Portuguese and Japanese information centres the Baan Hollanda will be proof of the cosmopolitan character of the city of Ayutthaya, where dozens of ethnic groups, Asian and European, lived and worked under the Ayutthayan king?s sovereignty.

A team of excellent Thai and Dutch historians is working on the content of the exhibition, in cooperation with Thai museums and universities and a Dutch museum. To design and create a modern exhibition, with modern facilities, attractive to Thai and foreign visitors, extra funding will be necessary. Also funds will be necessary to ensure that the museum can be maintained in the future. A business plan has been made and a foundation in Thailand is being set up to collect the necessary extra funds. A website on the history of the Dutch in Ayutthaya and on the construction of the museum will be operational shortly. We welcome your support.

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