Ayutthaya

One of the highlights of our trip to Bangkok was a visit to the Ayutthaya historical park.  It was once one of the largest cities in the world.  The ruins still beautiful.  

History

Ayutthaya city (full name Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Thai: พระนครศรีอยุธยา) is the capital of Ayutthaya province in Thailand.  Located in the valley of the Chao Phraya River, the city was founded in 1350 by King U Thong, who went there to escape a smallpox outbreak in Lop Buri and proclaimed it the capital of his kingdom, often referred to as the Ayutthaya kingdom or Siam.

Ayutthaya historical site map

Ayutthaya became the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. It is estimated that by 1700 CE Ayutthaya had a population of around one million, making it one of the world’s largest cities at that time, when it was sometimes known as the “Venice of the East”.

In 1767, the city was destroyed by the Burmese army, resulting in the collapse of the kingdom. The ruins of the old city are preserved in the Ayutthaya historical park, which is recognised internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruins, characterised by the prang (reliquary towers) and gigantic monasteries, give an idea of the city’s past splendour. Modern Ayutthaya was refounded a few kilometres to the east. [1]

The Grand Hall (Wihan Luang), near where these pictures were taken, is now an empty space.  It used to house a 16 meter high golden standing Buddha image.  Named ‘Phra SisanPhet’ this Buddha image was burnt by the Burmese in order to take away the gold.  All that remains is the bronze core.  Nowadays Phra Sisanphet is placed at Chedi Sanphetdayan in Wat Phrachetuphon Bangkok.

IMG_3856 copy

Ayutthaya IMG_3867 copy

When the Burmese invaded in 1767 they destroyed the site and decapitated most of the Buddhas (see the Buddhas surrounding the main statue and also below).

Ayutthaya ruins

Centuries later, the Buddah Tree with the head of a Buddah grown into the roots of a Bodhi tree is one of the iconic images of Thailand today.

References

[1] Wikipdeia – Ayutthaya Kingdom – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayutthaya_Kingdom  Accessed 19 Sept 2015

[2] Wikipedia – Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phra_Nakhon_Si_Ayutthaya_(city).  Accessed 9 August 2015

4 Comments

  1. […] of Ayutthaya early in the 17th century however it was left abandoned for nearly a century after the Burmese invaded and destroyed Ayutthaya in […]

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  2. […] in the grounds of the old Ayutthura city is the temple of Wat Phra Si Sanphet.  It includes the tombs of three […]

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  3. […] travels. I introduced him to Matthew.  They get on well.  And now Oxford Bear is exploring Asia.  Ayutthaya was one of his […]

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  4. franniedo

    Fascinating

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