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  • Writer's pictureVoraka Magazine


Updated: Mar 10


Article Published on 10 March 2024 by Marie Dean | 


Ayutthaya, the royal city nestled in the valley of the Chao Phraya River, holds the echoes of a bygone era when it reigned as an unparalleled commercial and maritime power in Siam (modern Thailand). From its establishment in 1350 CE to its tragic downfall in 1767 CE at the hands of the Burmese army, Ayutthaya's rich history has left an indelible mark on the landscape and culture of the region.

Historical Significance: King Ramathibodi I, the first monarch of Ayutthaya, strategically moved his court from Lop Buri in 1351 CE. This marked the beginning of Ayutthaya's dominance, absorbing the Sukhothai kingdom in 1438 CE and solidifying its position as the second capital of Siam. The city, founded due to a smallpox outbreak, was named Ayutthaya, drawing inspiration from Ayodhya in northern India  - the city of the lord Rama in the Hindu epic Ramayana. The kingdom, known as Krung Tai, formed vital trade links with China, establishing itself as a key distribution center for Chinese silks and ceramics.

The Rise and Fall: Described as the "Venice of the East" by Portuguese explorer Fernao Mendez Pinto, Ayutthaya thrived until the Burmese invasion in 1767 CE. The destruction of the city wiped away most official records, art, and literature, leaving the city's history to be reconstructed from the accounts of foreign visitors and ancient maps.

Legacy in Ruins: The remnants of Ayutthaya's grandeur are encapsulated in the 289-hectare Ayutthaya Historical Park, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 CE. Thai-style architecture, with temples reminiscent of cakes piled high with cream, owes its inspiration to the Ayutthayan period.

Global Connections: Portugal, the first European nation to engage in commercial contact with Ayutthaya in 1511 CE, left a lasting impact on modern Thai cuisine and language. By the 17th century CE, Ayutthaya emerged as a maritime power, engaging in global diplomacy. The court of Louis XIV welcomed Ayutthaya's foreign minister, Kosa Pan, in 1686 CE, exploring possibilities of military and trading alliances.

Planning Your Visit: The Ayutthaya Historical Park offers a visual feast of archaeological ruins, reliquary towers, and bronze Buddha statues. Before delving into the extensive park, a visit to the Chao Sam Phraya Museum provides essential insights into Ayutthaya's history. Exploring the park on foot or by bicycle is facilitated by Ayutthaya's grid planning system, while adventurous travelers can opt for the iconic Thai tuk-tuk or hire a personal tour guide for a more immersive experience.

Four Must-See Temples: Situated 80 kilometers north of Bangkok, the Ayutthaya Historical Park houses over 60 temples and ruins. Four standout temples, namely Wat Phra Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Lokayasutharam, and Wat Phra Si Sanphet, stand as timeless witnesses to Ayutthaya's fascinating history and architectural brilliance.


A journey through Ayutthaya transcends time, offering a glimpse into the grandeur of a once-thriving kingdom. From its strategic rise to commercial prominence to the tragic fall that shaped its legacy, Ayutthaya remains a testament to the resilience of cultural heritage. Explore the enchanting ruins, soak in the history, and witness the enduring influence of Ayutthaya on modern Thai culture.


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