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Kingdom of Ayutthaya (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya © Jojie Alcantara

Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya © Jojie Alcantara

The historic City of Ayutthaya (1351-1767), was the second capital of a flourishing Siamese Kingdom (Thailand’s old name). For 417 years from the 14th to the 18th centuries, it grew to be one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan urban areas and a most important center of global diplomacy and commerce during its time. It was said to be beautiful, luxurious and fabulous… think wild Paris of ancient history.

Ayutthaya was strategically located on an island in the midst of three rivers connecting to the sea. Based on ancient maps and historical records, the prosperous kingdom was laid out according to a systematic and rigid city planning grid consisting of roads, canals, and moats around its principal structures. It had a technologically advanced hydraulic system for water management which was unique in the world. It developed into a major rice farming area. Located upstream at the head of the Gulf of Siam, it protected the city from failed attacks of seafaring warships and seasonal flooding. Eventually, it gave in to persistent invasion from the Burmese armies.

Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya by Jojie Alcantara 2

The city was finally burned down by the Burmese army in 1767 forcing the inhabitants to abandon their homes. Art treasures, libraries of literature and archives of historical records were almost totally destroyed. Most of its statues were decapitated, leaving headless Buddha statues everywhere. What remained of its former glory were ruins of the royal palace. At present, it is located in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, the central provincial capital.

Today, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya is now regarded as one of the most impressive archaeological ruins in history, characterized by the remnants of massive prangs (towers) and vast Buddhist monasteries in splendid architecture, attesting to its excellent period of impressive and original Central-Thai art and cultural development.

Special thanks to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Thai Airways for this significant trip, inviting the international media to a “Mega Fam Tour” dubbed as “Thailand’s Best Friends Forever”, and encouraging people to come visit Thailand once more because it is wonderfully back to normal.

View more of my temple photos here

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