Ideal duration: 1-2 days
Best Time: November-January Read More
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Ayutthaya, short for Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, is a small city in Thailand containing archaeological sites like temples, monasteries, palaces, etc. It lies just 80 kilometres north of Bangkok and is an ideal destination for a day trip from Bangkok. Often referred to as Krung Kao or 'ancient capital', Ayutthaya was a significant centre of trade, economy, art and culture during its time and successfully flourished for over 400 years. It is a beautiful city oozing history and culture and a UNESCO world heritage site. It derives its name from the Sanskrit word for the place Ayodhya of Ramayana, the birthplace of Lord Ram.
Architecturally rich, it is a magical land for photographers. Ayutthaya offers a lot of Wats and monasteries like Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana and many more, where tourists usually go for sightseeing. It is a popular day trip choice for travellers in Thailand who want to see something different that has visually more heritage. Today, compared to ancient times, a lot of modern Thai culture is evolving in this place. A lot of guesthouses and cafes have been built for tourist recreation.
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When it comes to shopping, Ayutthaya has a variety of unique products to offer at its markets.
How was Ayutthaya Formed?
Prince U Thong founded the city of Ayutthaya, or later known as Ramathibodi in 1350. He named it 'Ayutthaya' after the kingdom of the same name in the Thai national epic, the Ramakien.
The city, which was the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom, flourished from the 14th to 18th centuries and grew to become one of the largest and wealthiest centres of trade and commerce. It enjoyed an ideal location as an international trading centre, being close enough to China, India and the Malay Archipelago. It was built on an island surrounded by three rivers: the Chao Phraya, the Pa Sak and the Lopburi river and was also connected to the Gulf of Siam.
By 1700, Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants. Based on maps and other sources, it is known that the city of Ayutthaya also had an extensive and developed plan, including roads, canals and even an advanced hydraulic system. People from all over the world, such as China, India, Japan, Portugal and France, were taken with Ayutthaya' s grandeur and beauty. Foreign influences were visible in the art and architecture of the city, as well as in its trade and economy. The buildings and architecture of the city consisted of a unique and vibrant mixture of styles and borrowed from various cultures and art forms like that of China, Japan, Persia and India. Some surviving architects from Ayutthaya even attempted to recreate Ayutthaya' s architectural form in the newly chosen capital of Bangkok.
Fall of the City of Ayutthaya
In 1767, the Burmese attacked Ayutthaya and burnt down the entire city, forcing the inhabitants to flee. Most of the buildings in Ayutthaya were made of wood and could not hold out after the fire. The attack also destroyed a majority of the art, literature and historical records of the city, indicating the end of the kingdom. Many of the survivors were forced into slavery. Following the downfall of the empire, General Phraya Taksin established a new capital at Thonburi.
The city of Ayutthaya was never rebuilt or restored until the 1960s when the Thai Fine Arts Department began to restore some of its ruined monuments and temples. Today, Ayutthaya remains as archaeological ruins in the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province. Its remains include 'prangs' (or the reliquary towers), monasteries, temples, ancient statues, shrines, stupas and palaces.
The ruins of the historic city of Ayutthaya found in the Ayutthaya historical park was officially recognised for its historical importance and cultural value, and was marked as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991.