Ayutthaya — the ancient capital of Siam
Ayutthaya is one of the three administrative centers that existed on the territory of modern Thailand. It became such in the XIV century, when the king of Ayutthaya conquered the more ancient Khmer city of Sukhothai. In the XVIII century. Ayutthaya suffered a similar fate: the Burmese, taking advantage of the conflicts in the Thai elite, attacked the city and almost wiped it off the face of the earth. Ayutthaya is similar to Sukhothai not only by fate: today and here, and there — restored ruins, bricks and statues, reminiscent of past greatness.
You should come here already to see what the millionth medieval capital of Siam can turn into if barbarians attack it, chopping heads off to statues.
For 4 centuries, Ayutthaya flourished:
- monumental and grandiose chedis and temples were erected here;
- the territory was streaked by artificially dug canals;
- here was the center of East Asian trade.
The city was inscribed in a unique landscape. From all sides it was surrounded by rivers so that the city was on an island of about 5 km². This situation made the city invulnerable for centuries, allowing it to grow rich and develop.
After the Burmese invasion, the beauty and wealth of the center of Siam turned into sand and a pile of stones. In the XIX-XX centuries. Treasure hunters who brought tons of bricks and hundreds of statues from the devastated capital put their hand to the destruction of the cultural remains of the city. Left that could not be dragged away. In parallel, all this time there was restoration work.
Today, part of the territory of ancient Ayutthaya with preserved architectural monuments — an area of about 2.5 km² — is protected by the laws of Thailand as a historical heritage park. If you feel spiritual thrill, being among the large centenary ruins, then you need to visit this place to plunge into the original history of Thailand.
How to get there
Most likely you will eat from Bangkok. It is about 70 km and 1 hour journey. You can drive in one of the following ways:
- on the shuttle bus — from the Victory Monument — for 60 baht;
- by bus — from the northern bus station, located near the metro station Mo Chit — for 30 baht;
- by train — from Hua Lamphong Railway Station — for 15 baht.
Any transport runs often enough. Minibuses — as far as filling. Buses and trains — on schedule — every half hour at least.
Where to stay and how to get around
Around the territory of the historical park is a typical provincial town of Thailand. There are hotels in the form of guesthouses: for $ 15- $ 20 you can settle in quite decent, for $ 5- $ 10 — in modest. Work shops, markets, cafes. Prices — below the capital, the average in Thailand.
Directions from the station to the historic park:
- on the tuk-tuk — 50 baht;
- on a boat on the river — 4 baht.
- bicycle — 40 baht;
- motorcycle — 250 baht.
What visitors of the ancient capital of Siam can now see is the result of ongoing restoration work. The status of «restored ruins» are 35 temples. There are also 6 brick “mounds” — what is left of objects that cannot be restored. Nearly 400 structures were lost forever: not even a trace was left of them.
For specialists, each of the remaining 35 objects is unique. Despite the fact that the buildings are in many ways similar to each other, they differ in nuances: bas-reliefs, sculptures, additional decorating elements. For a visitor who is not very interested in the architecture and antiquities of Thailand, it will be enough to visit 5-10 places of interest.
Entrance to their territory is paid — 50 baht to each temple. Ruins easier to visit for free.
It was built in the XIV century. in the likeness of Khmer temples. It was the central religious object of Ayutthaya throughout its existence. Here was the official residence of the spiritual leader of the Kingdom of Siam, held sacred and festive events. Inside were kept relics of the Buddha. Nearby was the royal palace, from which only a small piece of the wall was preserved.
The building is in good condition. Much has been restored. Inside there is a hall where objects found as a result of endlessly conducted archaeological excavations are exhibited. A famous landmark — the head of the Buddha, covered with tree roots — is located on the territory of this temple.
The second most important attraction of the historic park. The temple is located opposite Maha That. It is known for a preserved hall in which a mini exhibition is organized with an explanation of the structure of the temple.
Despite the presence of lighting in the room twilight, which, together with the ancient shabby walls and stone floors make the room look like the scenery for the next film about Indiana Jones.
Phra sri sanphet
At one time it was a large temple, part of the royal palace complex. Here was the largest at that time Buddha statue in Thailand. The bronze 16-meter figure weighed 64 tons and was covered with 343 kg of gold.
The rulers erected three huge chedi in which the ashes of their ancestors were kept. These chedi are still in good condition. They are worth seeing.
Located next to Phra Sri Sanphet. Like many other temples in Ayutthaya, this one follows the Khmer architectural tradition. In the center of the temple rises the central tower (as they say, «corn») in height with a five-story building, on four sides from which stand the towers more modest. The complex is well preserved. On the courtyard housed chedi and a gallery.
The temple complex refers to the late Ayutthaya period. Only some elements of the foundation, dilapidated chedi and a unique sculpture of a reclining Buddha have survived. The length of the statue is 42 m, the height is 8 m. The head of the Buddha lies to the north, his face looks to the west. For residents of Thailand, this sculpture is a shrine to this day. Periodically, park rangers cover it with an orange savannah. Behind the statue there is a small altar in which visitors can make donations.
In this area it is hotter than on the coast (often + 40 … + 45). It makes sense to come to the city in the evening, spend the night at the hotel, as early as possible in the morning to go on a tour. First, it will not be so hot. Secondly, on the ruins of Ayutthaya, fantastic sunrises.
The park is large enough. At the same time, the complexes of sights are separated from each other by moats, fenced in with fences, so that one has to walk by “corners”, which makes the way longer. If you are not used to walking around a lot, then it makes sense to rent a bike or a bike.
But here another problem arises: it is impossible to cross the temples with the vehicle. Everyone decides how to make it great. However, the majority of visitors still walk.
Dogs are a separate problem, due to which the impression of Ayutthaya can be darkened. Perhaps, once homeless creatures and stop bringing trouble to people, but for now they do it with enviable periodicity. This applies to both the new city and the historical park. There are a lot of dogs. While hot they sleep, but in the late afternoon and at night they behave aggressively. A motorcycle or bicycle will not save. Only a reliable stick in hands will help: most likely, it will not come in handy, but its psychotherapeutic effect on dogs will have — the animals in Thailand are not all friendly.