Intro: In the Valley of Chao Phraya River there lies an amazing historical city just 40 miles of North of Bangkok, the capital and most populous city of Thailand. The city of historical significance is famous as Ayutthaya, short for ‘Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.’
Geography of Ayutthaya:
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province: The city Ayutthaya gets its name, or rather shares its name with the province that it is situated in. The province is located at the center of Thailand, covering an area of 2,556 square kilometers at the flat river plain of Chao Phraya River. The province was an old capital of Thailand. It is of special significance because of its strategic location during Burmese invasion, in the history of trade and in the symbolic architecture of the palaces and temples it contained.
Chao Phraya River: The Chao Phraya River is a major river in Thailand flowing across complete central part of the country. It is one of the major attractions of the cities that it touches especially Bangkok and Ayutthaya. The river starts at Nakhon Sawan Province and flows for around 372 kilometers and exits into the Gulf of Thailand. Canals of this river are a major water source of many of Thailand’s cities.
The city was founded in 1350. During all these years, the city has survived sea- wars of the other countries solely because of its remarkable geostrategic location surrounded by three rivers and above the tidal bore of the Gulf of Siam at the time. It was attacked and completely burnt down during the Burmese invasion in 1767. The remains of its reliquary towers and huge monasteries are deemed as archaeological reserves today.
The city was inscribed as UNESCO World’s Heritage Site in 1991. The historical sites cover a gigantic area of 289 hectares, consisting of ruins of Buddhist temples, monumental level monasteries and reliquary towers that are a symbol of architectural art and splendor of their time.
The Royal Court of Ayutthaya and the enclaves of its foreign trade partners around it depict a variety of architectural styles varying among the buildings depending on whose property it was at the time. The Ayutthaya School of Art also contains its architectural beauty. Famous monasteries such as Wat Mahathat and Wat Phra Si Sanphet are exemplary examples of their economical and tradition might. The art contained in these sites show signs of itself being borrowed from multiple nations of varying cultures. The highest influences in this regard are of Japan, India, China, Persia and Europe.
Restoration and recreation:
After its destruction in the Burmese attack, the city could never be rebuilt at the same location. However, its architects and builders got together again, dreaming to restore the might of their capital and to recreate its amazing sites once again. However this could not become true, and the replication of Ayutthaya resulted in the creation of the new – capital city of Thailand: Bangkok.
This is exactly why Bangkok contains, to some extent, the essence of the architectural and artistic beauty of its predecessor, Ayutthaya. The original location of Ayutthaya is now known as ‘Ayutthaya Historical Park’ exhibiting many ruins of sites like Wat Thammikarat, Wat Phutthaisawan, Wat Phra Ram, Wat Lokaya Sutharam, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Phanan Choeng, Wat Mahathat and much more.