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Located 76 km from Bangkok., Ayutthaya is an essential stop on a tour of the north of Thailand or an ideal day trip if your only destination is the capital.
It was founded in the year 1350 by the first monarch of the Uthong dynasty. Its delimitation by the confluence of the rivers Lopburi, Pa Sak and Chao Phraya, turn it into a strategic fluvial island protected from possible sieges. In the 14th century, in its heyday as the center of political and commercial power, it contained around 1 million inhabitants and 500 temples, but in 1767, after 33 kings had reigned, it was invaded, razed and burned by the Burmese army. Major Taksin moved the capital to the ancient city of Thonburi,on the west bank of the River Chao Phraya in what is today, Bangkok, and he then became known as King RamaI.
The Ayutthaya Historical Park, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, includes the ruins of temples and stone palaces that were part of the city while it was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam.
It is popular to tour the city on a motorcycle, bike, tuk-tuk or on foot, but since the sights are spread around the city, the distance between makes it more advisable to use any of the vehicles mentioned.
Among the archaeological sites that are part of the historical site there are temples such as the Wat Phra Sri Samphet, which was part of the destroyed Grand Palace and exhibits three chedis Bells which contain the ashes of three kings; the Wat Phra Mongkol Bopith, next to the previous one, which houses one of the largest Buddhas in the country and Wat Yai Chaya Mongkhol,which features a great stupa of 62 metres in height and a huge Reclining Buddha, clothed in a yellow coat and dozens of small Buddhas, arranged in a row in order to protect the temple. There is also Wat Chaiwatthanaram, further away from the rest and in a fantastic state of preservation, with a certain resemblance to the Angkor Wat of Cambodia, built in a Khmer style; Wat Maha That or Temple of the Buddha Head, the most internationally known for the famous decapitated head of Buddha enclosed between the roots of a fig tree. Some theories attribute this strange sight to the years of abandonment or to an attempted robbery; Wat Ratchaburana, with two huge towers and a crypt; Wat Lokayasutharam Sutha, which without much relevance in its architectural concept for the state of its foundations, stands out for the colossal Reclining Buddha of 42 by 8 metres; and Wat Phanam Choeng, with a beautiful statue of Buddha sitting 19 metres high from whose eyes, the legend says, tears flowed on the day of the devastation of the city.
The Bang Pa In Summer Palace, located on the banks of the Chao Phraya in a small village a few kilometres south of the historic park, is open to the public since the royal family uses it very sporadically. Built in 1632 and remodeled in 1889, the complex reflects a certain European influence and encompasses spacious and well-tended green areas with curious shrubs arranged in the shape of an elephant, a Chinese-style royal palace, a throne room, the royal residence, the Ho Withun Thasana and the Divine Seat of Personal Liberty, a beautiful pavilion sits in the middle of the pond.
In the new city of Ayutthaya you can visit the National Museum of Chao Sam Phraya, a modern exhibition that houses 2,400 pieces found among the ruins of the old city and unearthed during excavations such as sculptures, paintings, doors, panels, ceramics or jewelry.
A building located at the foot of the river, which contrasts with the Siamese aesthetic, is the Catholic Church of San José, the first place of worship of the mission, founded in the seventeenth century by French missonaries on land granted by the king.
If you want to witness the hustle and bustle of the city, you can visit the floating market on the outskirts Klong Sa Bua for a pleasant ride through the canals in traditional canoes, surrounded by the ancient Kingdom of Siam or immerse yourself in the fun atmosphere of the night markets of Haw Raw on the banks of Chao Phraya or Bang Lan, where it is possible to buy a wide variety of items and enjoy good food thanks to the wide range of cuisine.
Ayutthaya is an essential destination to visit to understand the history of Thailand. Here you can witness the country’s immense history and immerse yourself in the history and culture of a great kingdom. A holiday to Thailand is incomplete without contemplating the wonder of these ancient temples and ruins.
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