For centuries Ayutthaya was the magnificent capital of the Kingdom of Siam. When it was destroyed in the Siamese-Burmese War in 1767, only ruins remained of its former glory. Since 1956, these have been subjected to continuous restoration work and today form the Ayutthaya History Park and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Important sights are the Buddhist temple complexes and the remains of the former palace buildings. Also worth seeing is the traditional Ayothaya floating market. A boat trip on the Chao Phraya shows you the beauties of the former royal city from a unique perspective. The best time to visit Ayutthaya starts in November, when the rainy season in central Thailand is over, and lasts until February. Less
Means "Temple of the Great Holy Relic."
A small town worth seeing
Translated, the name of this once most important Buddhist temple complex of Ayutthaya is "Temple of the Great Holy Relic". As early as the 14th century, King Borommaracha I had a religious site built on the present site. Under his successor Ramesuan the temple complex was extended. However, most of the preserved buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries, when King Prasat Thong had the complex restored. Among the most significant treasures are the remains of the great prang, which is a traditional tower form in Buddhist temples. Originally, this imposing Khmer-style structure, of which only the base remains today, rose 44 metres into the air. Other eye-catchers include the Buddha's head grown into the roots of a fig tree and the ornate Great Pagoda. During restoration work in 1956, workers on the grounds of Wat Mahathat found a buried treasure chest containing several magnificently decorated golden Buddha statues. You can admire these and many other art treasures at the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum in Ayutthaya.
South of Ayutthaya on the banks of the Chao Phraya lies the small town of Bang Pa-In. Here rises the former summer palace of Thai kings. Originally built by King Prasat Thong in the 17th century, most of the buildings were constructed between 1872 and 1889 under King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn. Today, the palace complex is popular with visitors to Thailand and locals alike as an excursion destination. Among other things, the filigree floating pavilion Aisawan Thiphya-Art Sala and the colourful observation tower Ho Withun Thasana are particularly worth seeing. Other buildings, such as the neoclassical palace building Phra Thinang Warophat Phiman, clearly betray European influences. The buildings are surrounded by lovingly tended gardens with ornamental shrubs trimmed into animal shapes, inviting you to take long walks. Or you can explore the extensive grounds in the comfort of a golf cart. You can rent such a vehicle at the entrance upon presentation of your driver's license.
Before Ayutthaya was destroyed by the Burmese conquerors in 1767, Wat Phra Si Sanphet was one of the most impressive temple complexes in Siam. Today, the three lavishly restored chedis, bell-shaped Buddhist reliquaries dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, are the main reminder of the splendour of yesteryear. They house the ashes of King Borommatrailokanat and his two sons and are the unofficial landmark of Ayutthaya History Park. Another impressive artwork of Wat Phra Si Sanphet was the 16-meter high gilded Buddha statue in the 164 feet long royal assembly hall. While the foundation walls and individual wall elements of the hall can still be seen today, the gold of the statue was melted down by the Burmese. The restored bronze core of the Buddha can be visited in Bangkok today. An unforgettable experience is to visit the temple complex on your Ayutthaya holiday after dark, when the ruins are bathed in a mystical light from hidden spotlights. Less
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