Portuguese Settlement, Ayutthaya

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Timings : 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hrs

Entry Fee : No Entry Fee

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Portuguese Settlement, Ayutthaya Overview

The Portuguese Settlement, also called Campos Portugues, in Ayutthaya was once home to thousands of Portuguese natives. Located just a few hours outside Bangkok, it is now fairly isolated but well-maintained by the government. You’ll get a glimpse of the Portuguese role in Ayutthaya’s weaponry, skills, and trading history through displays and pictures. There’s also a church that still stands. As there isn’t much else to do here, the Portuguese settlement will primarily appeal to history buffs eager to learn more or travellers with Portuguese roots.

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Highlights of Ayutthaya Portuguese Settlement

Ayutthaya was once the richest city in Asia due to its rulers’ warm welcome to merchants and traders. The Portuguese were treated well during their stay in Thailand; in fact, they were even allowed to build their own churches here. There are some ruins of the Church of San Pedro that exist today, facing east towards Chao Phraya River. It isn’t in use any longer but when you enter, you’ll get a glimpse of the convergence of Thai and Portuguese architecture and perhaps even an idea of what life here was like centuries ago.

The church was medium sized, standing 50 metres (over 160 feet) tall with a compound that included a ceremonial hall, a priest’s residence, and a cemetery a little further away. The graveyard has been covered with a roof and archaeologists have found over 200 burials here. These unearthed skeletons have been left open to the public. Unfortunately, if you were to visit in the monsoon months, there wouldn’t be much to see as these graves get submerged in rainwater.

Inside the ceremonial hall, you’ll find commemorations of the Portuguese in Thai history. There are many books, maps, and pictures on the walls that highlight their role in architecture, construction, weaponry, and trade in Ayutthaya. Aside from this, there aren’t antiques or exhibits to view. Although there aren’t many people to take care of the settlement ruins, you’ll see that it is still well-maintained. The lawns are kept clean, rails have been installed along the graveyard, and the books are not dusty. There aren’t tour guides needed or available. There aren’t many facilities here and it’s best to carry your own snacks and water when visiting.

Tips

The settlement is open to the public with no opening hours, meaning you can visit at any time of the day. However, as the afternoons can get hot, it’s advisable to visit before 1:00 PM.

How To Reach Portuguese Settlement, Ayutthaya

The Portuguese settlement, also called Campos Portugues, is in the district of Samphao Lom in southern Ayutthaya. It is on the banks of the Chao Phraya River near the Japanese trading post and a short distance from Wat Phutthaisawan. There are buses that leave Bangkok hourly from Mo Chit Bus Station towards Don Muaeng Airport. From here, the settlement is 55 kilometres (45 minutes) by road. It is 65 kilometres (1 hour) from Chatuchak Market, 82 kilometres (1 and a half hours) from Wat Arun Ratchawaram, and 72 kilometres (1 hour 10 minutes) from Pratunam.

Alternatively, you can follow the Bangkok-Chonburi Motorway towards Suvarnabhumi Airport to reach Ayutthaya. You’ll need to head towards Wat Phutthaisawan and around 4 kilometres from there, you’ll see an exhibition building and the graveyard that remains of the Portuguese settlement.

History of Portuguese Settlement in Ayutthaya

The region of Ayutthaya has been called Siam in foreign accounts, but it is called Krung Tai by the locals. The Portuguese settlement here is located in southern Ayutthaya. It covered over half a square kilometre and had an estimated population of 3,000 people. It was the biggest western community in the region. It had three churches – the Church of San Pedro for the Dominican sect, the Church of Sao Paolo for the Jesuit sect, and a church for the Franciscan sect.

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