A rich history and developing modern culture make Ayutthaya a fascinating place to visit. Only 85 km north of Bangkok, this special place possesses both the ruins of an ancient city and the feel of a modern one. With its unique history, Ayutthaya is a worthy cultural destination to include on your holiday in Thailand.
Founded in 1350, and surrounded by three great rivers, the island city of Ayutthaya flourished, growing to a population of one million citizens by the 18th century. The waters and the ever-increasing community created a thriving trade hub, drawing merchants from many countries to the area. Ayutthaya’s openness was also its downfall; the Burmese destroyed it in 1767, burning most of the city to the ground, ransacking the buildings and enslaving any remaining citizens. The spirit of Ayutthaya lives on in modern Thailand.
Ayutthaya Historical Park features the ruins of the original city. You can explore stone statues, temples, and palaces and the majority of the ruins are open to the public for a small fee. The island is full of temples; some remain functional, but most are in ruins. While some of the ruins have been renovated or conserved, there aren’t enough monks now to facilitate the upkeep.
If your time is limited, don’t miss Wat Phra Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana, and Wat Thammikarat. Wat Phra Mahathat is a must-see, with rows of majestic headless Buddha statues and a very famous tree, the roots twisting and weaving around a Buddha's head. Wat Ratchaburana is next door, featuring a fully-restored prang that you can climb (an intricately carved spire resembling a tower), and original temple paintings. Wat Thammikarat is the ruins of a magnificent temple, featuring a 12 metre tall Buddha, inlaid with spectacular glass mosaics. An Experience Travel Group guide will bring the complex to life: it's easy to miss just how magnificent this city once was.
As well as the temple ruins, the museums at Ayutthaya are very popular with visitors. If you can only see one museum, choose the Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre, dedicated to the history of the island and its culture. This fascinating museum gives an idea of what the area was like before the devastation by the Burmese. The Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre contributes historical depth and cultural significance of the ruins to the Siamese, helping to enhance your understanding of the area. The Chao Sam Phraya National Museum holds relics from the original city, mainly intricate golden statues. The Baan Hollanda Museum illuminates the little known Dutch settlers, their lives, cultures, and relationships with the Siamese.
Filled with majestic stone temple ruins, and bursting with stories and precious relics from a bygone era, Ayutthaya is well worth your time in Thailand, if you're looking for a historical adventure. Talk to our experts about including Ayutthaya in your next tailor-made Thailand holiday.
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