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Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya Historical Park (Thai: อุทยานประวัติศาสตร์พระนครศรีอยุธยา (Pronunciation)) covers the ruins of the old city of Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province, Thailand. The city of Ayutthaya was founded by King Ramathibodi I in 1351, [a] though it is likely to be significantly older, based on evidence showning that the area was already populated during the Mon Dvaravati period. Sources further mention that around 850 AD, the Khmers occupied the area and established a stronghold there, naming it Ayodhya after one of the holiest Hindu cities in India of the same name. The early history of Ayutthaya is connected to this Khmer settlement.   Additionally, Prince Damrong has also attested to the existence of a city named Ayodhya, founded by the Khmers ruling from Lopburi at the point where the three rivers meet.  An excavation map shows traces of an ancient baray (water reservoir) close to the southwestern tip of Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, which could have been built on a former important Khmer temple complex. 
The city was captured by the Burmese in 1569. Though not pillaged, it lost "many valuable and artistic objects."  : 42–43 It was the capital of the country until its destruction by the Burmese army in 1767. 
In 1969, the Fine Arts Department of Thailand began renovations of the ruins, scaling up the project after the site was declared a historical park in 1976. Part of the park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. 
1. Wat Ratburana
Wat Ratburana was built in 1424 by King Borommarachathirat (long name!)
The highlights of this temple are the three-headed Naga (a mythical serpent) and the central Prang built In the Khmer (Cambodian) style, similar to Prasat Muang Sing in Kanchanaburi. Climb the steep stairs up to the central Prang, then go inside to find a set of secret stairs leading down to a secret crypt. Down here you will find original and unrestored images of Buddha on the walls.
2. Wat Mahathat
Wat Mahathat is located right beside Wat Ratburana, an easy walking distance.
This ancient temple is known for having the iconic Buddha head stuck inside the roots of a Banyan Tree. Probably one of the most iconic photos in Ayutthaya. It is believed the Buddha’s head was originally part of the tall statues nearby in the temple grounds. There are plenty of other stories about this temple which you may read about such as the famous battle around the tree where this Buddha’s head is lodged.
3. Wat Phra Si Sanphet
This is the largest temple in the Ayutthaya Historical Park, also commonly called the Grand Palace (not to be confused with the Grand Palace in Bangkok ). Wat Phra Si Sanphet has a row of three large chedis which are an iconic image of Ayutthaya. Climb the steep stairs for a good view over the whole area.
Along the way to Wat Phra Si Sanphet, you may also like to make a quick stop at Wat Phra Ram.
After visiting Wat Phra Si Sanphet, walk next door to the temple Wihaan Phra Mongkhon Bophi. This is a modern temple visited by the Thai people as a place of worship. You will be amazed by the huge golden Buddha statue in here.
4. Wat Lokaya Sutha (Reclining Buddha)
Wat Lokaya Satha is home of the 42-meter-long 8-meter-high reclining Buddha statue. That is an enormous Buddha statue! Normally you will find the Buddha statue dressed in bright orange cloth.
This temple is located in the northwest of the city near the eastern bank of the Chao Praya River. Again, this temple was damaged by the Burmese attack in 1767 and restored in 1956.
Opening hours: 8.30am to 5.00pm
5. Wat Chai Wattanaran
This temple is located on the western bank of the Chao Praya River, quite a bit further away from the previous four temples we’ve visited. Here there are a total of 120 Buddha statues throughout the temple grounds, and the Chedis are connected by a set of secret passageways.
You can climb to the top of Wat Chai Wattenaran for a great sunset view over the ancient city.
Wat Chai Wattanaran was constructed in 1630 by King Prasat Thong. This temple, like most in Ayutthaya, was damaged by the Burmese attack in 1767, restored in 1987, and reopened to the public in 1992.
How to Get Here
There are several options to get to the Historic City of Ayutthaya. The first option is to drive by car following a wide range of route options such as Highway 1, Highway 304, Highway 306 or Expressway No.9. Your choice of route to take will vary on where you are coming from. You can also hire a taxi to get you there.
The cheapest way to travel to Ayutthaya is via train. However, it is also the most scenic option. You must go to the Hualamphong Train Station in Bangkok and it will stop in Ayutthaya. The average duration of the trip is 1 hour and 20 minutes or up to 2 hours depending on the type of train you take.
Finally, you can travel to Ayutthaya by bus. You must head to Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal or in Moh Chit. There are buses you can ride there that will take you to Ayutthaya. The trip can take either 1 and a half hour or 2 hours.
Map of Ayutthaya Historical Park, Ayutthaya, Thailand. - History
8 May 2017 - The Culture Ministry is confident about its bid to protect the World Heritage status of Ayutthaya. Culture Minister Vira
Rojpojchanarat inspected the historic city on Sunday and expressed confidence that it would remain on the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.
UNESCO earlier told authorities to improve Ayutthaya or it would be stripped of its status. "We have already acted on the UNESCO
recommendations. For example, we have already improved structures within the historic zones," Vira said. "We have assigned officials to study more
on historical-site development. We have even restored ancient structures with help from foreign experts." He added that a report on such efforts
would be submitted to the UNESCO meeting next month. [Source: The Nation, news, national, 30314551]
31 March 2017 - Six years ago, floodwaters inundated the UNESCO cultural world heritage site in Ayutthaya, causing severe damage to the
Historical Park and leading to the setting up of the German Wat Ratchaburana Safe-guarding Project (GRASP). Under the leadership of renowned
“stone doctor” Prof Hans Leisen from the University of Applied Sciences Cologne, Germany and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office,
GRASP intervened to conserve the unique stucco and plaster at Wat Ratchaburana – one of the most spectacular temples of the former royal city.
Leisen has been Professor for Conservation Science: Conservation and Restoration of Objects of Stone and other mineral porous building materials
at Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences CICS since 1990. Wat Ratchaburana was founded in 1424
by King Borommarachathirat II – also known as Chao Sam Phraya of the Ayutthaya Kingdom
In a 2014 interview with The Nation, Chaiyanand Busayarat, director of the Ayutthaya Historical Park talked about the project and expressed deep
appreciation to the German team that helped Thailand restore the stucco and brick structure and to Dr Leisen, who assisted the Fine Arts Department
in studying and restoring the brick and mortar used in the Ayutthaya era. The official handing-over ceremony of the successfully concluded project
was held on Tuesday, March 28 in the presence of German Ambassador Peter Prugel, Sahabhum Bhumtitterat of the Ministry of Culture, Dr. Sujin
Chaichumsak, Governor of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province, Anandha Chuchoti of The Fine Arts Department), Preecha Khun-thapraisri, Deputy
Mayor, Ayutthaya Municipality, and Sukanya Baonoed, Director of Ayutthaya Historical Park. [Source: The Nation, news, life, art_culture,
International Symposium ‘The Conservation of Brick Monuments at World Heritage sites’
19-21 October 2016- Historic City of Ayutthaya © UNESCO / Francesco Bandarin.
The symposium was initiated in response to the decision of the World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of the Historic City of
Ayutthaya World Heritage Site.
The Committee recommended that Thailand hold “an international symposium, in collaboration with UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies, to debate
on the conservation philosophy of brick-associated sites, together with academics and international conservation practitioners”.
The symposium will provide a platform for exchanging knowledge on conservation of brick monuments in the context of World Heritage sites, in line
with international standards and World Heritage principles related to authenticity and integrity. It will be attended by experts from various international
institutes related to cultural heritage conservation including the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (Japan), Cologne Institute of
Conservation Sciences (Germany), World Monuments Fund (USA), ICOMOS, ICCROM, and national agencies responsible for the conservation of
brick-associated World Heritage Sites in South-East Asia.
The invited speakers will address a range of challenges in conservation, including the appropriate application of scientific conservation principles,
traditional building techniques and materials in undertaking conservation of ancient sites, as well as practical ways to include local communities for
sustainable heritage protection.
The symposium will focus on thematic sessions, as follows:
Keynote Session: International standards on the conservation of World Heritage sites
Session 1: Evolving principles and practices in the conservation of brick monuments for World Heritage sites
Session 2: Brick monument conservation in Historic City of Ayutthaya World Heritage site: challenges and responses
Session 3: Revival of traditional craftsmanship in brick and lime conservation for World Heritage sites
Session 4: Towards an updated conservation philosophy for brick monuments at Historic City of Ayutthaya World Heritage site
The symposium also includes a one-day field visit to monuments in the Historic City of Ayutthaya, which will be followed by a half-day Session 4,
which is a final panel discussion among participants. The discussion aims to gather observations and recommendations that will result in the definition
of authenticity and integrity in the context of the Historic City of Ayutthaya World Heritage site, the proposed update of conservation principles and
practices in line with international standards, and recommendations for institutional and technical capacity building in heritage protection for Thailand.
The symposium will provide useful recommendations to the Fine Arts Department of Thailand on how to improve the institutional and technical
capacity for the better conservation of this World Heritage site. [Source: UNESCO website, Events, 1333]
Historical sites restored
30 April 2013 - AYUTTHAYA: Thailand’s Fine Arts Department reports most of the flood-damaged historical parks in Ayutthaya have been
restored about 18 months after floods devastated the central plains province. The department on Monday said renovations at Thailand’s old capital
of Ayutthaya, was now 80% complete. On Sunday, the department general director, Sahawat Naenna, led a high-level UNESCO delegation to visit
the Ayutthaya’s historical park , centuries-old temples and the anti-flood embankments on the banks of the Chao Phya River, built to keep the annual
floods at bay. The Fine Arts Department and UNESCO are working on flood prevention measures for the province, but prevention is limited to
specific areas. The province lies in a massive flood plain stretching a good 200 km north to south and 80 km east to west. Measures are in place to
protect historical sites and factories in key locations and divert water to other areas. However, the country’s comprehensive water management plan,
announced during the 2011 floods, is still in the planning stage. During the flood disaster in late 2011, 157 historic monuments in the province were
damaged and hundreds of factories closed. Some of them have still not reopened, but that is more to do with insurance claims or other financial
considerations. According to a two-year full-scale flood risk mitigation plan supported by UNESCO and the Asian Development Bank, experts will
undertake hydraulic modeling using computer simulations to gauge flood risks at the site. Based on the results, project partners will develop a flood
risk mitigation plan together with local stakeholders. International experts in risk preparedness for cultural heritage conservation will be mobilised by
UNESCO Bangkok to guide the plan’s development in line with international conservation standards. Ayutthaya then will be the first World Heritage
site in Southeast Asia with a management plan for flood risk mitigation, setting an example for other World Heritage sites around the region. The
project will be undertaken by the UNESCO Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE) based in the Netherlands, in close collaboration with
UNESCO Bangkok. [Source: TTR Weekly - Writer: Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit]
UNESCO guides flood plan
28 March 2013 - AYUTTHAYA: World Heritage sites in Ayutthaya province will be the first in the country to have a full-scale flood risk mitigation
plan supported by UNESCO and ADB. Ayutthaya was the worst hit province during the 2011 flood and hundreds of historical sites were damaged
with some still undergoing restoration. UNESCO Bangkok director, Gwang-Jo Kim, said: “Disaster risk mitigation is one of the top priorities for
World Heritage protection identified by the World Heritage Committee.” The UNESCO project was developed following the severe flood of 2011
that heavily affected the Ayutthaya’s core world heritage site. It is being funded by the Asian Development Bank under its water resources financing
programme. Since October 2011, Thai authorities have supervised repair work at the World Heritage site and have invested in water management
systems for the Chao Phraya River Basin. However, up to now, there has been no long-term effort to protect Ayutthaya’s heritage assets from future
flooding. “The two-year project will assess the flood risks at Ayutthaya’s World Heritage site and then develop a flood risk mitigation plan.”
According to the project, experts will undertake hydraulic modeling using computer simulations to gauge flood risks at the site. Based on the results,
project partners will develop a flood risk mitigation plan together with local stakeholders. International experts in risk preparedness for cultural
heritage conservation will be mobilised by UNESCO Bangkok to guide the plan’s development in line with international conservation standards.
“Ayutthaya will be the first World Heritage site in Southeast Asia with a management plan for flood risk mitigation, setting an example for other World
Heritage sites around the region.” The project will be undertaken by the UNESCO Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE) based in the
Netherlands, in close collaboration with UNESCO Bangkok. In addition, project partners include the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute (HAII),
the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Thai government Fine Arts Department. An international experts’ seminar in October will start the
consultation sessions to develop the plan. The project will also support the province’s bid to host the global mega event World Expo 2020.
Historically, the waterways surrounding the city have played an integral role in providing transport as well as preventing floods. If the province wins
the bid it will make full use of river and canal transport for visitors travelling to the expo park. The government has set in motion a flood management
plan that will tackle the long-term problems and issues that cause flooding annually. The province governor, Wittaya Phewpong, said earlier: “The
systems will focus on integrated water resource management based on a master plan of the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management
for the Chao Phraya River basin.”He added: “Flood protection in the Chao Phraya Basin will focus on reducing the volume of water in the river by
diverting it to the Chin River in the west, and the Bang Pakong River in the east.” The province has decided that the proposed World Expo site will
be close to the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre about 20 km south of Ayutthaya town. [Source: TTR Weekly - Writer: Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit]
UNESCO focuses on Ayutthaya's World Heritage sites
28 Mar 2013 - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has launched a project to develop a flood risk
mitigation plan for Ayutthaya's World Heritage sites. According to UNESCO director Kim Gwang-Jo, more than 150 historic monuments in
Ayutthaya were affected by the 2011 floods. Recovery efforts by the authorities are still continuing. "However, up to now there have not been any
initiatives aimed specifically at addressing the flood risks threatening the historic city of Ayutthaya as a cultural heritage site of local, national and global
significance," he said. Disaster risk mitigation has been singled out as one of the top priorities for World Heritage sites in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Through this project, Ayutthaya will be the first World Heritage site in Southeast Asia with a management plan for flood risk mitigation, setting an
example for other World Heritage sites around the region and beyond," Kim said.
Led by the UNESCO Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, the project received US$200,000 (6 million baht) from the Asian
Development Bank to undertake two-year research. The initial findings will be launched by October this year and the final solution will be purposed
to government agencies by September 2014. UNESCO expects that the effort will set a standard for other World Heritage sites to have a natural risk
mitigation plan. "After the floods, the immediate concern was restoration of the heritage sites. If you take a longer-term perspective, you need to
prepare for the future. Being proactive is better because it means we are well prepared," Kim said.
"We selected Ayutthaya because the heritage sites there were affected the most," said UNESCO Institute for Water Education associate professor
Zoran Vojinovic. The study will cover not only the old city of Ayutthaya but also its vicinities in order to find practical solutions, he said, adding that
the institute will capitalise on its expertise in water management and will also invite specialists from the International Scientific Committee on Risk
Preparedness of the International Council on Monuments and Sites. "We will also work closely with local agencies such as the Asian Institute of
Technology and the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute which also give us strong support. We hope that the outcome will complement the
government's work." According to the Fine Arts Department director-general Sahawat Naenna, the department supports UNESCO's flood risk
management study. "As you know, several heritage sites in Ayutthaya were affected by massive flooding in 2011," he said, adding that the floods
damaged 127 sites out of 303 historical sites throughout the nation. About 70% have been fully restored. "We still have 60 sites to go. The restoration
process is taking longer than we anticipated because when we restore one point, we find other spots which need to be repaired too," he said, adding
that the department was delighted that this international collaboration will ensure an appropriate and efficient approach to preserving the nation's
cultural treasures. "When we get the findings, we will make a proposal to the government to allocate a budget. I believe the final plan will comprise
short, middle and long term plans, as well as a couple of risk management models that we can follow," Sahawat said. According to UNESCO's
Culture Unit head Tim Curtis, the project will benefit World Heritage sites in other countries also affected by flooding such as Pakistan, which was
flooded in 2011, and Cambodia, as well as the Philippines. World Heritage sites also need to be prepared for the threats of other natural disasters
such as earthquakes and fires. "If you lose a World Heritage site, it is gone forever. You cannot rebuild it," he said, adding that it is better to have a
risk mitigation plan in place. [Source: Bangkok Post - Writer: Karnjana Karnjanatawe]
UNESCO launches project to develop a flood risk mitigation plan for Ayutthaya World Heritage Site
22 March 2013 - Bangkok - UNESCO is launching a project to develop a flood risk mitigation plan for the World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya. The
launch event at UNESCO Bangkok on 22 March 2013 was attended by key players of Thailand’s national flood risk reduction efforts and
representatives from the embassies of Germany, Japan, Portugal and the United States that have been actively involved in Ayutthaya’s post-flood
recovery in 2011 and 2012. The project was developed following the floods of 2011 that heavily affected the Ayutthaya Historic City World
Heritage Site. The project is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under its water financing programme. “Disaster risk mitigation is one of
the top priorities for World Heritage protection identified by the World Heritage Committee,” said Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Bangkok.
Since October 2011, the Thai authorities have undertaken extensive repair work at the World Heritage site and have invested in water management
systems for the Chao Phraya River basin. However, up to now, there has not been any long-term effort to protect Ayutthaya’s heritage assets from
future flooding. This two-year project will assess the flood risks at the Ayutthaya World Heritage site and then develop a flood risk mitigation plan.
Experts will undertake hydraulic modeling using computer simulations for flood risks at the site. Then, based on the results, project partners will
develop a flood risk mitigation plan together with local stakeholders. International expertise in risk preparedness for cultural heritage conservation will
be mobilized by UNESCO Bangkok in order to guide the development of the flood risk mitigation plan in line with international conservation
standards. Mr. Kim said that upon successful completion of this project, “Ayutthaya will be the first World Heritage site in Southeast Asia with a
management plan for flood risk mitigation, setting an example for other World Heritage sites around the region.” The project will be undertaken by the
UNESCO Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE) based in the Netherlands, in close collaboration with UNESCO Bangkok. Project
partners include the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute (HAII), the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Fine Arts Department of Thailand.
An international expert seminar to commence the consultation sessions for the development of the flood risk mitigation plan is planned for October
2013. [Source: UNESCO Bangkok]
Department to educate public on preserving ancient sites
31 January 2013 - More than 10 ancient sites in Thailand had been destroyed in the past 30 years, including some by building encroachments on
the Ayutthaya Historical Park and World Heritage Site, Fine Arts deputy chief Anek Sihamas said yesterday. In Bangkok, too, buildings of
architectural value had been pulled down, he said. As a result, the department would educate the public about the value of ancient sites and revive
projects for local volunteers to work on art and culture heritage conservation, Anek said. Department chief Sahawat Naenna said 2,000 out of
Thailand's 8,000 ancient sites had been registered for protection. The rest were still in the process because the department could register only about
100-150 sites each year. Consequently many unprotected sites were being destroyed. Sahawat said he would initially propose pending-registration
sites to be listed as national ancient sites until listed in the Royal Gazette. The public would then realise their value and notify the department prior to
any renovation or modification. Despite the Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums Act 1961, Anek said many areas had seen
encroachment and demolition of ancient sites. More than 10 registered ancient sites, as well as other not-yet-registered ancient sites, had been
destroyed or modified in the past 30 years. In the Northeast, ancient cities in Nakhon Ratchasima, Roi Et and Kalasin had been turned into farmland
by villagers who didn't know the sites were of archaeological value, he said. In northern areas like Chiang Rai and Phayao, it was found that locals
had built new pagodas covering ancient ones. In Central Thailand, especially Ayutthaya, some buildings had been constructed on the Ayutthaya
Historical Park and World Heritage Site while in Bangkok old buildings of architectural value had been demolished, he added. [Source: The Nation -
by Pakamard Jaichalard]
Minister challenges GHF evaluation
11 May 2012: Culture Minister Sukumol Khunplome insists Ayutthaya will continue as a UNESCO World Heritage Site although the historical ruins
topped the Global Heritage Fund ’s list of 10 most endangered heritage sites in Asia. The fund is neither related nor linked to UNESCO. Thailand’s
Ayutthaya Historical Park was first listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in1991. “Although Ayutthaya topped the warning list released by the
Global Heritage Fund, we should note that the report was not prepared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
(UNESCO).” Founded in the United States’ California in 2002, GHF is a non-profit organisation that operates internationally. It has invested over
US$25 million and secured US$20 million in co-funding for 19 global heritage sites to ensure their sustainable preservation and responsible
development. GHF specifically focuses funding and conservation efforts on the developing world because of scarce human and technical resources.
Ms Sukumol claimed “UNESCO officials had confirmed that they had not considered removing the ancient ruins from the world heritage site list.”
She questioned the credibility of the GHF report, adding that UNESCO experts have been visiting and inspecting the site with Thai officials
on a regularly basis and had not found any threat or serious deterioration . “The Ministry of Culture is in the process of requesting further
clarification from the Global Heritage Fund, which publishes the list,” she added. According to the GHF’ Saving Our Vanishing Heritage: Asia’s
Heritage in Peril report, Thailand’s Ayutthaya sustained major damage during last year’s flood crisis and the site is also being threatened by
mismanagement and a lack of a suitable restoration budget . The report said in 2011 major flood damaged 158 historic monuments and caused
the closure of hundred of factories. At the time Thailand’s Culture Minister, Sukumol Khunplome, estimated that flood damage over six weeks was
comparable to the accumulated water erosion damage sustained over centuries . Also, the report added historically, the budget assigned to
historical sites in Thailand had not met the amount requested by conservationists, requiring additional funding from other international agencies to
support efforts in Ayutthaya. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra approved a budget of around US$162 million to implement water
management and flood prevention projects, with around US$25 million allocated specifically to repair ancient sites . The other nine sites at risk
are: Philippines’ Fort Santiago and Intramuros China’s Kashgar Bangladesh’s Mahasthangarh Afghanistan’s Mes Aynak Myanmar’s Myauk-U
Laos’ Plain of Jars Cambodia’s Preah Vihear India’s Rakhigari and Pakistan’s Taxila. The list was compiled by GHF experts based on the 2010
study, Saving Our Vanishing Heritage, which surveyed 500 major sites in developing countries to evaluate current loss and destruction, conservation
and development. [Source: TTR Weekly - by Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit]
Culture Ministry insists Ayutthaya ruins to remain world heritage
8 May 2012 - Culture Minister Sukumol Khunploem has played down a report about the Ayutthaya ruins topping the list of the 10 most endangered
heritage sites in Asia, noting that the report was not prepared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Mrs Sukumol insisted that Thailand’s Ayutthaya Historical Park will continue to be listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO as it has been since
1991. According to the minister, UNESCO officials have confirmed that they have no plan to remove the ancient ruins from the world heritage site
list. Mrs Sukumol also questioned the credibility of the report, adding that UNESCO experts have been visiting and inspecting the site with Thai
officials on a regularly basis and have not found it to be under any threat of deterioration. The Culture Ministry is in the process of requesting further
clarification from the Global Heritage Fund (GHF), which published the top-ten list of most vulnerable sites. According to the GHF, the Ayutthaya
Historical Park sustained major damages during last year's flood crisis. Its report also claimed that the site is being threatened by mismanagement
and lack of restoration budget . [Source: NNT]
UNESCO denies involvement in Ayutthaya threat study
5 May 2012 - A report listing Ayutthaya among 10 historic sites in Asia under threat due to over development and mismanagement was not prepared
by UNESCO , a spokesman from the Fine Arts Department says. UNESCO contacted the department to clarify the origins of the report. The list was
prepared by the NGO-owned Global Heritage Fund , which is a different entity than UNESCO's World Heritage Fund. Staff at UNESCO's
Bangkok headquarters clarified the matter with the Fine Arts Department, fearing that the bodies' similar names could create confusion. UNESCO
has listed the palace and temple ruins of the former capital as a world heritage site. ''The names of the two funds can cause confusion when they are
translated into Thai because of their similar meanings,'' Fine Arts Department chief Somsuda Leyavanija said yesterday. UNESCO's World
Heritage Committee is scheduled to meet in St Petersburg in Russia between June 25 and July 5, but it is not clear whether the group will discuss
world heritage sites which are under threat and require restoration. ''There is currently no such item on the agenda,'' Ms Somsuda said. Global
Heritage Fund executive director Jeff Morgan earlier listed Ayutthaya as among historic sites in Asia under threat due to a variety of factors from
unsustainable tourism development, poor management and wars. Ayutthaya was severely hit by flooding late last year which damaged 158 historic
monuments, the fund's report noted. The report added that the government has not provided an adequate budget to restore flood-damaged sites. The
Fine Arts Department, while admitting the Ayutthaya historic zone is facing encroachment from vendors and urban development, denied that the core
of the city's ancient beauty is under threat. Culture Minister Sukumol Khunploem also insisted the government granted adequate funding to
restore 311 historic sites in Ayutthaya after the flood. [Source: Bangkok Post]
Ayutthaya tops endangered sites list
4 May 2012 - Ayutthaya tops the list of the 10 most endangered Heritage sites in Asia, according to the Global Heritage Fund . Asia's architectural
treasures, from a Buddhist monastery in Afghanistan to an ancient city in China, are in danger of vanishing under a tide of economic expansion, war
and tourism, according to experts. The Global Heritage Fund (GHF) named 10 sites facing "irreparable loss and destruction." The top 10 endangered
sites in Asia, according to the Global Heritage Fund, are:
1. Ayutthaya ruins in Thailand, the former Siamese capital that was sacked by Burmese invaders in 1767, prompting the move to Bangkok.
2. Fort Santiago in the Philippines.
3. Kashgar, one of the last preserved Silk Road cities in China.
4. Mahasthangarh, one of South Asia's earliest archeological sites in Bangladesh.
5. Mes Aynak, an Afghan Buddhist monastery complex on the Silk Road.
6. Myauk-U, capital of the first Arakenese kingdom in Myanmar.
7. Plain of Jars, a mysterious megalithic site in Laos.
8. Preah Vihear, a Khmer architectural masterpiece in Cambodia.
9. Rakhigari, one of the biggest, ancient Indus sites in India.
10. Taxila, an ancient economic crossroads in Pakistan.
Based on the GHF's report, the ruins of Ayutthaya were declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
(UNESCO) as a world heritage in 1991. It suffered greatly during last year's great flood, which damaged 158 historic monuments. The government's
budget for the management and preservation of the site has also not met the amount requested by conservationists. Fine Arts Department deputy
director Anek Sihamat accepted that the Historic City of Ayutthaya has been under threat of encroachment from vendors and urban
development . This had led to worries the site might be removed from the UNESCO world heritage list. "It is a prolonged problem and we well
realise it. So the department and local authorities have been working together on the site’s conservation, tourism, urban development and city planning
aspects," Mr Anek said. "To be frank, the site is moderately at risk from rapid development in order to accommodate tourists. But to be at risk does
not mean that it is really ruined or destroyed," he said. "If the site is really listed as an endangered site, UNESCO will give a warning of the need to
improve and solve the problems before removing from the list." [Source: Bangkok Post]
Culture Minister led international diplomats to visit World Heritage Sites in Ayutthaya
24 March 2012 - The Culture Ministry has led a group of international diplomats to inspect World Heritage sites in Ayutthaya Province. Culture
Minister Sukumol Kunplome said that last year's severe flooding has apparently affected and caused serious damages to World Heritage sites and
various ancient ruins in Ayutthaya Province. Mrs. Sukumol stated that UNESCO and several governments have expressed their concern and offered
support for the restoration of all damaged historical sites, in the forms of grant, specialists and public donation. In order to convince tourists about the
ongoing restoration work, the Culture Ministry has led an international delegation, comprising ambassadors and their spouses from 23 countries as
well as local and international media, on an inspection trip to all major sites in Ayutthaya. The 2-day trip, which began on Friday, was also intended to
strengthen diplomatic ties and boost confidence among foreign tourists. Regarding the progress in the restoration of damaged ancient sites, Fine Arts
Department Deputy Director-General Anek Seehamart said that the department is now in the process of finding contractors to restore more than 10
major historical attractions, including Wat Chai W atthanaram and Wat Phra Sri Sanphet . Mr. Anek expects the actual work to commence at the
beginning of April.
Caution ordered for fair in Historical Park
07 February 2012 - AYUTTHAYA -The Red Cross Fair's light and sound show, to be held from February 10 - 19 in the Ayutthaya historical park ,
will be sited 10 metres away from the world heritage site and there would be no firework lighting, Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome said Tuesday.
A 10-metre section of Wat Mahathat 's ancient wall collapsed after the devastating flood last year. Sukumol said the authority was finding Bt4 million
to fix the wall, and is awaiting a full report from the Fine Arts Department. She has instructed the department to closely monitor the situation and find
innovative construction and restoration methods to fix and strengthen the ancient sites. As for the upcoming fair, Sukumol had discussed with the
province ways to prevent further damage. They agreed to have the stage moved 10 metres away from the site while the speakers were also moved
and turned outwards, she said. [Source: The Nation]
Japanese cultural experts report on status of Ayutthaya World Heritage site
05 January 2012 - In a press conference hosted by the Thai Ministry of Culture’s Fine Arts Department on 22 December 2011, a team of 8
Japanese experts reported on their recent technical mission to Ayutthaya. H.E. Mr. Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, Thai Vice Minister for Culture,
opened the conference thanking UNESCO and the Japanese Government for their continuous support and cooperation in the salvage of the
Ayutthaya World Heritage site. Ms Somsuda Leyavanija, Director of Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture, joined her Vice Minister by
conveying her gratitude to the Japanese Government in “protecting the invaluable heritage of Ayutthaya”. Etienne Clement, Deputy Director,
UNESCO Bangkok, affirmed UNESCO’s continuous commitment and support to protect and safeguard the World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya after
the tremendous flood in 2011. “UNESCO is concerned about the recovery of Ayutthaya both in the short-term and the long-term. A multi-
disciplinary effort will be needed to ensure that the historic site and its larger urban and natural context will be sustainably managed in the future”, he
said. “From UNESCO’s perspective, it will be important to comprehensively address all the issues necessary for this long-term sustainability of the
site. The issues range from very specific technical concerns, such as mural conservation to very large-scale issues such as disaster response and
integrated urban and environmental planning”, he said. “Like at other sites in Asia and around the world, UNESCO plays a key role to support
governments to mobilize the needed expertise across all these different specializations to react quickly and plan strategically in response to these kinds
of disasters”, Mr. Clement closed.
H.E. Seiji Kojima, Ambassador of Japan to Thailand expressed his gratitude to the Thai people in their support to Japan in the aftermath of the
devastating earthquake this year and confirmed the Japanese flood recovery support for Thailand. In regard to Ayutthaya, Mr. Kojima confirmed “the
importance of Ayutthaya not only for Thailand but for the whole world”, which hugely justifies the intervention of international and Japanese experts in
assessing and restoring the site. In relation to the mutual help and support of the two countries in the aftermath of their respective disaster situations,
Mr. Kojima said: “We can understand the feelings of Thai people and Thai people can understand the feelings of the Japanese”. A first international
expert mission had taken place from 30 November to 1 December to assess the status of key monuments after the flooding in 2011 with temporary
water levels up to 3 meters. On 18-21 December another mission followed by the team of 8 Japanese experts, composed of conservation specialists,
architects, painting restoration specialists and photographers of the National Research Institute for Cultural properties in Tokyo, Japan, and the Japan
Agency for Cultural Affairs. The experts undertook damage analysis, emergency stabilization, restoration and long-term management assessment.
This survey, like the previous one from late November, again focused on key monuments such as Pompetch , Wat Phra Srisanpetch , Wat Mahathat ,
Wat Ratchaburana , Wat Chai Wattanaram , Wat Ayothaya , Wat Maheyong , Wat Ku Deedao , Wat Pradoo , Wat Choeng Ta and Wat Phuttaisawan .
The scientists assessed the monuments’ upper and sub-structures, and the murals in Wat Pradoo, Wat Choeng Ta and Wat Phuttaisawan. For the
expert team, Mr. Wataru Kuwanobe, Director of the National Research Institute for Cultural properties in Tokyo, Japan, debriefed on the status of
the inspected monuments, confirming that the flood did not directly produce major damages and that the site’s main monuments are not at immediate
risk. However, the floods have exacerbated underlying vulnerabilities of the site, which show a series of damages and general deterioration due to
past floods and environmental and human influences over time. The site will need a long-term conservation and management plan and, in reply to a
question from the press, the status of the site’s sub-structures and the ground will need further analysis and measuring. The entire historic island of
Ayutthaya and its surrounding area was flooded for more than a month starting in early October 2011, with a total of 157 historic monuments in and
around Ayutthaya World Heritage Site affected. Ayutthaya was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991. Founded c. 1350, the historic city was
the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. [Source: UNESCO Bangkok]
Pols, business leaders raise 850,000 baht for Ayutthaya ruins restoration
30 December 2011 - Politicians and local business leaders raised 850,000 baht to help restore ancient ruins damaged by floods in Ayutthaya. The
Dec. 21 charity dinner at the Zign Hotel was organized by the Banglamung and Pattaya governments, Eastern Thai Hotel Association, Pattaya
Business & Tourism Association, Union of Pattaya Entrepreneurs, Pattaya Expats Club, Lions Clubs, and Rotary Clubs. Each table cost 15,000
baht. Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome says it’s the responsibility of all Thais to cooperate in restoring remains of the historic city of Ayutthaya .
Organizers said it was the responsibility of all Thais to cooperate in restoring remains of the historic city, as they are key symbols of Siamese history,
art and culture, as well as a key source of tourism revenue. Among the guests at the Sidella Balloon were Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome,
Banglamung District Chief Chawalit Saeng-Uthai, Pattaya Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh, PBTA President Wiwat Pattanasin and Pattaya Business
Confederation President Sa-nga Kijsamret. [Source: Pattaya Mail]
Flood Damages Ayutthaya Historical Park
22 December 2011 - The director of the Fine Arts Division 3 Office in Ayutthaya Province is concerned about the damage on a pagoda at Phra Ram
Temple , while engineers found that many historical sites are eroding due to land subsidence. Officials at the Ayutthaya Historical Park found a crack
at the base of one of the pagodas on the southwestern site of Phra Ram Temple. 13 areas of glass walls inside the pagoda have also been found
damaged. Tourists were warned to avoid entering these areas. Supod Prommanoch, the Director of the Fine Arts Division 3 Office said that besides
crack lines at the base of a pagoda and damaged glass-walls at Phra Ram Temple, many areas of historical site are also damaged, including the old
city wall behind Phra Sri Sanpet Temple , next to Thor Canal. He said these areas have been previously restored before the disastrous flooding.
However, due to excessive volumes of floodwater pooled up in the historical site for a period of time, many historical areas in Koh Muang have been
damaged. Officials were ordered to deploy warning signs to warn tourists of the dangerous zones near the historical sites. Supod accepted that the
major concern is that many historical sites in Ayutthaya Province, including at the East and West of Koh Muang, have been badly damaged and
began to subside for an average of five centimeters. Engineers have already assessed the damage in order to report this matter to the director-general
of the Fine Arts Department. Supod further said the root-cause of land subsidence was that large volumes of floodwater pooled up in the historical
site for a period of time. This will take time to restore the areas since some areas, such as Chai Wattanaram Temple are still submerged with 30
centimeters of floodwater. It is necessary to wait for the water to ease in order to drain out the water into Chao Phraya River. This is because
draining out the water now will lead to an immediate land subsidence. The budget for restoration of Chai Wattanaram Temple is at approximately 30
million baht. [Source: Thailandoutlook.tv]
Fine Arts officials decline evacuation to safeguard Ayutthaya treasures
11 Oct 2011 - Some of approximately 100 officials from the Region 3 Fine Arts Office who were marooned with a group of local residents in
flooded Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park yesterday said they would stay to watch over the park's ancient artefacts. Fine Arts Department
chief Somsuda Leyavanija said the stranded officials guarding the park, along with the Chawsamphraya National Museum and Chantharakasem
National Museum , had insisted on staying because they were worried artefacts might be lost. The department had provided some supplies, but
Somsuda urged the provincial governor to assist by sending them more drinking water and food. . [Source: The Nation]
What on earth are they doing in Ayutthaya?
17 January 2011 - Should Ayutthaya be the city for everything? That's not a good idea at all. The old capital is back in the limelight again. This time
authorities from the provincial level down to tambon organisation administrations hope their city will get a shot at being the site of World Expo 2020.
Last Wednesday they convinced Vincente Gonzalez Loscertales, secretary-general of the Bureau International des Expositions, that their place could
be a perfect site for the world-class, cash-generating event. The visitor was greeted by local residents with banners hailing Ayutthaya as the best
choice for the event. He was escorted around to get a glimpse of key historical sites around the city. Ayutthaya plans to use 1,440 rai of land in Bang
Sai district near the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen to hold the World Expo if it is selected as the
host. "We have a lot of strong points including transport, culture and agriculture," Ayutthaya governor Withaya Pewpong boasted about his city. The
campaign to be the World Expo host is just the beginning. Ayutthaya has to fight Chon Buri and Chiang Mai, the two other Thai candidates vying to
clinch the lucrative chance to represent the kingdom. Then there are other outside competitors including Sao Paulo, Guangdong, Copenhagen,
Ankara, Dubai and Cape Town.
It will be good news if Ayutthaya loses this opportunity. The sooner the city is out, the better it is for the old capital. Ayutthaya should have not been
listed as a potential host from the beginning. Now it is. So let's hope for a quick out so that the authorities there will stop this burst of enthusiasm and
get back to the job of tackling the problems at hand. The province should be reserved only as a World Heritage site under the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. This position alone lures tourists there with billions of baht generated from their visits. Ayutthaya is
so popular and well-known that many foreigners go there directly after their plane lands at Suvarnabhumi Airport, intentionally bypassing Bangkok.
But this position alone is difficult for authorities to maintain. Don't forget that Ayutthaya is plagued with lots of problems, which could possibly make it
lose its World Heritage status if the mess is not resolved. That status for Ayutthaya will be reviewed at the World Heritage Committee's meeting this
year in Bahrain, as the reviews of Asian sites come about every six years. The city was awarded the title in 1991 and this year Thailand has to show
the committee members that it is taking good care of all historical places there. Failing to win the nod from the panel will mean a warning. That will be
bad enough. If nobody in the province and central government heeds that warning, the World Heritage status can be stripped. It is not difficult to
imagine the doom if that actually happens. What taints the old capital is poor management of the landscape of historic sites. Illegal souvenir vendors
are rampant and many new structures have been built to unintentionally spoil the century-old atmosphere. These are some of the problems which Fine
Arts and local officials have to resolve.
In addition to that, many old sites outside the World Heritage compound also have problems too. One case last year which showed the ignorance of
officials looking after them was that famous toilet. It was installed in the open air at Prasat Nakhon Luang in Nakhon Luang district built during King
Songtham's reign between 1611 and 1628. The sanitaryware stirred an outcry from tourists as they wondered why it was there creating such an
eyesore and showing no respect for a national asset. In fact the toilet had been there since 2004, six years before it was in the news. It was for old
monks who were too frail to come down from Prasat to the toilets at the temple ground. Fortunately, that toilet is now history and everyone wants to
forget about it. After his Ayutthaya visit, let's hope Mr Loscertales thinks World Heritage status is enough for the province with no need to add the
expo status as well. [Source: Bangkok Post - by Saritdet Marukatat]
Panel will manage ancient ruins
23 July 2010 - A committee will take over the Fine Arts Department's job in caring for ancient ruins in the old capital to defuse disputes between the
department and residents. Apirak Kosayodhin, an adviser to the prime minister, has agreed to set up a multi-party committee to take over the
department's job in the old capital, the Provincial Administration Organisation Council said. Council secretary-general Chatri Yudhprasert raised the
proposal with Mr Apirak, who agreed in principle to form the Ayutthaya World Heritage committee made up of local bodies, scholars, members of
the public and departmental officials. It will serve as a model for other provinces with archaeological sites, Mr Chatri said. Residents are unhappy with
many projects launched by the Fine Arts Department in the Ayutthaya historical park . They say they are not consulted and have suggested a
committee step in instead. One controversy concerns the department's plan to build a tram stop in front of the old provincial hall . Residents
complained when the erection of 32 piles during construction caused an eyesore. The hall serves as an art museum. Ayutthaya governor Witthaya
Piewdhpong has asked the department to remove the piles, but it has pulled down only 14. The constitution gives people the right to manage and take
care of their own neighbourhood, Mr Chatri said. [Source: Bangkok Post]
Fine Arts looks at banning cars from listed site. Ayutthaya stalls imperil World Heritage status.
17 June 2010 - The Fine Arts Department is considering banning vehicles from an area inside the historical park in the former capital to help
prevent the site from being stripped of its World Heritage list. The Ayutthaya Historical Park , which was declared a world heritage site by the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 1991, faces problems with illegal vendors setting up stalls too close to the site. Many use
their cars as makeshift stalls. This has raised concerns at the department and among provincial authorities. They say the park could be delisted due to
the failure of Thailand to properly manage the area. The main problem is at Wat Mongkol Borpitr , the park's main tourist attraction. The department
has set aside space behind the main hall of the temple for authorised vendors. But about 400 illegal souvenir sellers have set up businesses in front
of the temple. Department director-general Kriengkrai Sampatchalit said the problem could be solved through the introduction of a blanket ban on
vehicles entering the park. The plan needs the approval of other agencies including the Culture Ministry. It could be launched in October if all parties
are agreed, he said. The department has set up an alternative space for vendors to operate farther from the temple. Shuttle buses will provide a free
service for tourists to visit the authorised vendor area. Mr Kriengkrai hoped the plan will encourage vendors to move from the historical park to the
new parking area. Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombut, who yesterday took senior officials from the ministry on an inspection of the historical site,
said some vendors were happy to move to the new venue. Tongbron Homtong, who says he represents vendors at Wat Mongkol Borpitr inside the
historical park, said he and about other 144 vendors had already moved. "We all were willing to move because we were afraid the site would be
removed from the world heritage" Mr Tongbron said. "But after we moved out, hundreds of new vendors occupied our former place". Mr Tongbron
also complained that only a few visitors were shopping at the new space provided. [Source: Bangkok Post - Writer: Lamphai Intathep]
Prison, univ make way for preservation
15 February 2010 - The Culture Ministry is moving to relocate a prison and two university campuses from the historic compound in Ayutthaya for
fear they could affect the former capital's World Heritage listing. The plan unveiled by Culture Minister Teera Slukpetch calls for the removal of the
Ayutthaya Special Rehabilitation Prison, Ayutthaya Rajabhat University and Rajamangala University of Technology Suvarnabhumi's
Huntra campus from the old capital zone . The ministry has proposed spending 1.6 billion baht to preserve and revitalise the historic city. The
budget pending cabinet approval covers preservation projects proposed by the Fine Arts Department, relocation of the prison and the two university
campuses and promotion plans by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ayutthaya provincial municipality. The historic site of Ayutthaya was
listed as a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 1992. Mr Teera said the core zone was
under threat of rapid urbanisation. "From now on, construction work will not be permitted in the core zone", he said. The 1979 Building Control Act
and the 1975 Town and Country Planning Act would be better enforced to protect places with historical value. Fine Arts Department director-
general Kriengkrai Sampatchalit said no one would be forced to leave, but they would be told the city should not be extended to ensure the site
continued to meet UNESCO criteria. [Source: Bangkok Post - Writer: Lamphai Intathep]
Historic park plan hopes to lure tourists
05 February 2010 - Provincial governor Wittaya Piewphong is upbeat about a plan to improve the city's historical park to attract more tourists to the
former capital. "The campaign is expected to convince more visitors to visit Ayutthaya", Mr Wittaya said yesterday. The city will spend 68 million
baht in a campaign to improve and preserve the park , launched by the Fine Arts Department and energy giant PTT Exploration Production
(PTTEP). Models of the historical park will be created and information boards put up to give tourists a better understanding of the park's sites and
the history of the area. The models and information boards will be placed around the park compound, including at the Sanphet Prasat Pavilion, the
Suriyas Amarindra Pavilion, the Banyong Rattanart Pavilion, the Viharn Somdej Pavilion and the fortresses. The campaign will cover six temples: Wat
Mahathat , Wat Rat Burana , Wat Phra Ram , Wat Phra Si Sanphet , Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon and Wat Mae Nang Pluem . The information boards will
be based on the present ruins with other information aimed at providing a clear picture to tourists of what they looked like in the past", said
department director-general Kriangkrai Sampatchalit after a religious ceremony at the park. Books and brochures about the sites will be distributed
to 30,000 schools as part of the scheme to promote the value of the country's heritage and the importance of preservation among young people. The
campaign comes under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2007 by the department and PTTEP to preserve historical sites listed as World
Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). PTTEP chief executive Anon Sirisaengtaksin said
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had accepted the role of honorary adviser to the campaign because the Ayutthaya park was
the model used to build the Grand Palace in Bangkok. "The project is expected to take 600 days to complete all the improvements and preserve the
site in time to celebrate His Majesty the King's 84th birthday [on Dec 5, 2011]", Mr Anon said. The Ayutthaya Historical Park has been included on
UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites since 1991. About 4 million people visit the park every year, most of them Europeans. The visits bring in at
least 500 million baht a year, the governor said. [Source: Bangkok Post - Writer: Lamphai Intathep]
Ayutthaya Historical Park taking shape
05 February 2010 - Vigorous efforts are now up and running to recreate the core zone of the once-splendid capital of Ayutthaya in 3D models and
animation. "We have already recreated six temples in pictures", Fine Arts Department director-general Grienggrai Sampatchalit said yesterday. He
was speaking after attending a ceremony to worship late Thai kings at the Ayutthaya Historical Park . The ancient complex at Ayutthaya is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site. PTT Exploration and Production has provided more than Bt68 million for the project to conserve the complex in
honour of His Majesty the King. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has been the chief adviser to this project. Grienggrai said officials would
develop the pictures and models for the reconstruction, based on the ancient remains. "Once the project is completed, visitors will be able to see the
models that will depict clearly where each structure was located in the old days", he said. Grienggrai added that animation would also be produced
and kept for study purposes at learning centres. Methadon Wijakkhana, who heads the Ayutthaya Historical Park, said the models would be very
close to what stood in Ayutthaya centuries ago. "This is because we have developed the models not just from historical remains but also from old
documents", he said. Methadon pointed out that photos taken in the reign of King Rama V could be used to develop the model for Wat Mahathat .
He added that there was also an old map prepared by Dutchmen. "This is the first time innovative technology has been used at the Ayutthaya
Historical Park", he said. He believed the project would boost the number of visitors to the park. Once completed, the pictures and models will be
put right next to the historical remains so that visitors have a clearer idea of what Ayutthaya looked like in the past. Currently, the Ayutthaya Historical
Park attracts 1.2 million tourists from about 90 countries annually. Of them, about 60 per cent are from Europe. [Source: The Nation - Writer:
Ayutthaya feared to be removed from World Heritage list
04 June 2008 - Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung travels to Ayutthaya province to observe the situation following the government’s concern that
the province may be removed from the list of World Heritage. The minister visits historical sites with his entourage including the governor of Ayutthaya
and officials from the Fine Arts Department and relevant units to inspect the revival of Ayutthaya World Heritage. Ayutthaya is feared to be stripped
off its title of World Heritage as street vendors trespass on many historical sites in the province, leading to untidiness and a sight unsightly. Mr
Chalerm says he has instructed relevant units to explain the situation to local people and manage the areas surrounding the historical sites
appropriately. Street vendors will be strictly prohibited from selling goods in the restricted areas of the historical sites. [Source: NNT]
Ayutthaya&rsquos urban grid layout may seem simple enough, but you will find yourself easily lost once you make a wrong turn.
From Highway 309, the Chao Sam Phraya roundabout is the main intersection before you cross the bridge to the inner city. Continue west of here, Highway 309 turns into Rochana Road, the main thoroughfare that cuts through the island from east to west. From Rochana Road, turn right at Srisanphet Road, which soon turns into Naresuan Road, and you&rsquoll find yourself inside Ayutthaya Historical Park. U-Thong Road encircles the inner city and runs parallel to the rivers.
If you don&rsquot drive, the easiest way to get around the inner city areas is to hire a tuk-tuk (motorised three-wheeler) from the train station. Negotiate a price for one-day or half-day hire and also discuss all the sites you would like to visit with the driver before hopping on one. Long-tail express boats are pricier but a more exciting way to visit riverside temples and communities. Bicycling is also a good transportation choice, particularly when touring the Ayutthaya Historical Park.
Travel Report: Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand.
April 2015. I was so damn excited on the train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya! Following my ten day stay in the Thai capital, it was finally time for me to head north to discover some rural delights.
Back in Beijing, where I’d planned my trip around Thailand, it was the prospect of Ayutthaya Historical Park that really set the pulse racing. After all, this is where I’d get to roam the sprawling ruins of a grand Siamese empire. A staggering treasure trove of ruinous palaces, glittering temples, colossal Buddhas, emerald green rivers and lush, knotted trees.
On the train to Ayutthaya.
During that two and a half hour train journey, I was the subject of much attention. Schoolgirls giggled and pointed, while an old woman shot me an uncompromising glare. Moreover, in between several rows of seats, a young Thai boy stared at me, open mouthed. I guess for the locals I was just as fascinating as any ruined Siamese kingdom.
Baan Lotus Guesthouse, Ayutthaya.
I arrived in Ayutthaya, a modest city of just fifty thousand residents, late in the afternoon. In fact, light was already fading by the time I rolled into Baan Lotus Guesthouse. Perched on the edge of town, within walking distance from the park, the guesthouse enjoys an ideal location. It’s nothing fancy, just a dozen or so simple rooms in a sweeping traditional Thai building.
Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand.
Fully recharged after an early night, I rose the next morning at the crack of dawn. Before heading off, I took a moment to chill in the guesthouse’s peaceful garden. Birds flitted between the tamarind trees as I sat at the wooden table sipping from my water bottle. Hey, ho, let’s go.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
It took me about half an hour to reach Ayutthaya Historical Park on foot from the guesthouse. Scattered around 750 acres of land, the park houses the remains of the once stunning empire of Ayutthaya. Founded in 1350 by King Uthong, it became the second Siamese capital after Sukothai.
Ayutthaya subsequently flourished over the centuries, becoming one of the world’s wealthiest trade cities. At the peak of its powers historians say around one million people lived here. It was home to royal palaces, sumptuous temples, landscaped parks and giant Buddhas.
A painting of historical Ayutthaya by Johannes Vingboons (1665).
However, it all came to a tragic end in 1767 when the Burmese invaded. Burning virtually the entire kingdom to the ground, they murdered thousands and forced others into slavery.
Unfortunately, what remains today is just a slither of Ayutthaya’s former majesty. Nevertheless, the restored temples and relics on display are well worth seeing and a highlight of any visit to Thailand.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
In order to explore, the first thing I had to do was rent a bicycle. Because the park is just too vast to negotiate on foot, especially when you factor in the draining heat and humidity. Happily, there are numerous bike stations. I got mine from a small store called Mr. Mooh.
My day exploring Ayutthaya Historical Park began at Wat Phra Ram, a monastery constructed in the early 1370s. King Ramesun ordered its creation in tribute to his father Uthong, who had passed away. What’s more, some historians believe Ramesun actually had his dad cremated onsite.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
Wat Phra Ram’s ruins are an enchanting mix of stone cloisters, decomposing archways and weathered statues. As one of the park’s more understated compounds, I was lucky enough to have the place to myself. As a result, I felt inspired to take my time and explore every last chamber.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
The ruins include several headless Buddhas. One of which had been dressed in monk-orange and turned into a shrine. According to various articles, when the Burmese invaded they got into the habit of decapitating Buddha statues. They then sold the heads to private collectors from Europe and America.
Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand.
The monastery’s focal point is this central prang, accessed by a set of steep, stone steps. Climbing it, I found the crypt empty, though I was able to traverse the surrounding walls up to an excellent view point.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
In all the excitement of setting off that morning, I’d forgotten my sunglasses. Hence grabbing this clumsy selfie in the blinding sun didn’t turn out as flattering as I might have hoped.
Back on my bike, I headed towards the towering forms of three magnificent, bell-shaped stupas. They stand in the heart of Wat Phra Si Sanphet, once the holiest temple of Ayutthaya’s old Royal Palace.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
Unveiled in 1448, the royal family used Wat Phra Si Sanphet as a private chapel and family celebration venue. Furthermore, a number of kings were laid to rest within the temple. That’s where the three stupas come in: one holds the remains of King Trailok. The other two, the ashes of Rachathirat III and Ramathibodi II.
King Ramathibodi II of Ayutthaya.
Back in its prime the temple featured a giant 53-foot Buddha statue that weighed over 330 pounds. Sadly the Burmese toppled it, smashed it to pieces and melted it for gold.
As I explored that day, trying to imagine the giant Buddha still in place, I couldn’t help but notice the presence of no less than a dozen Buddhist monks. Some of them were taking photographs in front of the stupas, one or two exploring alone in deep thought.
Much to my delight, one of the monks agreed to a photograph. His group had travelled from Chiang Mai, he explained, where they served at a small rural temple. Coming to Ayutthaya, he said, fixing me with his serious eyes, “is life dream… I certainly never forget”.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
A short while later I found myself on the other end of a photograph request. A holidaying family from Myanmar, of all places, approached me out of the blue. “Will you photo my daughter?” the father asked, as the blushing girl set down her Burberry bag and came skipping over.
Mistakenly thinking I’d done my duty, I turned to leave with a wave. But these guys had only just gotten started. Thus I found myself pictured with everyone individually. First came mum, then dad, followed hot on the heels by grandma, grandpa and perhaps an uncle of some sort. Finally, with wide smiles and playful waves, I was free to go.
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit.
My next stop came as a huge surprise. In contrast to the crumbly ruins that had come before it, Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit looked so shiny and fresh you could’ve convinced me it had opened just last week. But in actual fact this beautiful viharn (sermon hall) dates back to the early 1600s.
Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
The hall’s name is a reference to the large golden Buddha that lies within. Incredibly, the Buddha was one of just a few statues to outlive the Burmese invasion of 1767.
For the Thai people its survival was cause for great celebration. So much so that the government had the golden Buddha fully restored, along with the original hall, which reopened in 1957. The Prime Minister of Burma even paid a visit with a large donation.
Some extended cycling through light woodland eventually brought me to a large, green lake. Despite the heat I just had to stop for a photograph. Luckily I managed to catch a passing Korean tourist who did the honours.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
It was here that I spied the cutest little temple perched on the other side of the water. Naturally I found myself cycling over for a look, but the building was locked up.
Adding to my disappointment, I couldn’t find any information about it whatsoever. Even now I sometimes wonder about its backstory and historical place within the park.
Also on the lake, I discovered a handful of small stilted houses. Initially, I wondered if they might be food stations for birds and squirrels.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
But actually they were full of tiny Buddha figurines. This one was quite the mess inside, the statues surrounded by grass and crispy leaves, in addition to offerings of dried fruit and rusty old coins.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
My next ruined temple proved to be a biggie. Constructed in 1374, Wat Mahathat is one of the park’s best preserved ruins and the site of one of Thailand’s most photographed images.
Within the temple grounds, at the base of an impressive banyan tree, sits a large stone Buddha head embedded into the roots. When I saw it up close, my first thought was Wow! How the heck did it get there?
Ayutthaya’s famous Buddha Head.
In short, nobody really knows. One theory is that after it was beheaded, its aggressor simply discarded it, after which it was swallowed up by mother nature.
Whatever happened, it remains a truly wonderful sight. If you ever come to see it, be aware of the local custom that says you should bow down before the head when you approach. Towering over it from close range is considered an insult!
Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
From the rooted Buddha head the remaining temples came thick and fast. Each one with its own unique features. At Wat Thammikarat, for example, a temple that predates the city itself, I was struck by a fearsome army of protective rooster guardians. Apparently, there are over a thousand peppered around the compound.
Elsewhere, at Wat Worapho, there was a cluster of restored Buddhas to enjoy. All five set beautifully under the shade of some fulsome Bodhi trees.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
I think my Ayutthaya experience wouldn’t have been complete without a big old reclining Buddha. And so I got my wish at the tricky to pronounce Wat Lokayasutharam. You can find this forty two metre structure west of the main courtyard. It faces west, which makes for some amazing reflected colours during sunset.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
It was late afternoon by the time I realised I was more or less done. Consulting my map of the park, I noticed one last temple set some distance away from the main ruins. If I wanted to get there, I figured it’d be at least another half an hour by bike.
In for a penny, in for a pound, I decided to go for it! The journey was hard work on the rickety bike, which obviously wasn’t used to handling long distances. But after a while I finally caught sight of Wat Phu Khao Tong, a fifty metre chedi springing out of the surrounding rice fields.
Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
Dating back to 1387, a series of kings contributed to the creation of this amazing, seventy four step tower. Including, fascinatingly, the Burmese King Burengnon after he seized power of Ayutthaya in 1569.
I was certainly out of breath by the time I’d hauled myself up to the top. Happily, fine views across the countryside rewarded me for my considerable efforts.
On the way back to Mr. Mooh’s the bike crunched through a pothole in the road and whoosh, I was stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire. Cursing my luck, I then spent half an hour trying to flag down a lift back to the historical park. At long last, a local man pulled up and agreed to drop me right outside the bike shop. An amusing end to one of my favourite experiences in Thailand.
Ayutthaya Historical Park.
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Ayutthaya Historical Park and its Temple Compounds (Wats)
Prang at Wat Phutthai Sawan, early Ayutthaya period. 'Thai'-styled prang (rounded). The top of the prang tapers off gradually.
We have visited most of the important temples around Ayutthaya Historical Park. Somehow we also managed to skip one or two. In any case, we advise that you need about two full days to cover most of the sites. This amount of time is the same whether you use a bike, a car, or a touring coach. Most visitors will only spend a few hours in the old capital, but this will not allow you to have a full overview of its culture and history.
The history and culture of Ayutthaya can be divided into three main period :
The Early Ayutthaya Period, the Middle Period, and the Late Ayutthaya Period.
From an architectural viewpoint, we can make simple distinction between the three periods. During the first period, the Prang (adapted from Khmer architecture) was the most prominent structure within the temple compound. During the middle period, the chedi (or stupa), often in Sri Lankan (rounded) style became the most visible monument. During the later Ayutthaya period, the Ubosoth or Coronation Hall became larger and larger, and while the prangs and chedis are still there, they are less prominent.
Please bear in mind, that quite a few of the older temples have been restored. Therefore elements of newer architecture may be seen in the older temple compounds.
Most important temple compounds , rather 'must see' :
: Contains Video Impression
Wat Mahathat (early) - Famous Buddha Head in tree, lots of ruins.
Wat Ratchaburana (early) - Impressive main prang, large compound.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet (middle period) - Three large Chedis
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol (chedi middle period) - Large Chedi, Reclining Buddha
Wat Chai Wattanaram (late period) - Most impressive Prang and Towers
Wat Phanan Choeng (buildings contemporary) - Huge ancient Buddha Image, very busy wat.
Wat Phutthai Sawan (early) - Whitewashed prang, Reclining Buddha
Wat Na Phramen (late) - Interesting old Buddha Images
Wat Choeng Tha (late) - Prang, interesting quiet site.
Wat Suwan Dararam ('modern period') - Very interesting Mural Paintings
Wat Mongkhon Bophit ('modern period') - Active wat, Large ancient Buddha Image.
Optional (surely still worth a visit!) :
Wat Thammikarat (middle) - Lion sculptures
Wat Kasattrathirat (late) - Whitewashed prang.
Wat Phu Khao Thong (late) - Large Chedi.
Wat Lokayasutharam (middle) - Large reclining Buddha.
Wat Som (early) - Prang, stuccos.
Wat Maheyong (middle) - Elephant sculptures.
Wat Sala Phun (late)
Wat Worachetharam (late) - Prang.
Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand
The ancient city of Ayutthaya of Thailand is one of the most historical ruins of the land and has a library of resources about the medieval period of the country, more famously known to all as the Ayutthaya Historical Park.
The Ayutthaya Historical Park is the main historical attraction of the whole Thailand tourism among many others. The old ruin city of Ayutthaya situated in the Ayutthaya province of the White Elephant land, Thailand had been the ancient capital of the county since its establishment in the year 1351 of the Common Era under the order of the then monarch of the country, King Ramathibodi the first. The capital Ayutthaya was then reigned for about two centuries before it fell under the Burmese invasion in the 1570th year of the Common Era. After that the city was plundered and devastated many times. It was after the establishment of the independent rule in the country that the government declared it as a historical conservational site.
The importance of Ayutthaya Historical Park lies in the fact that it was ruled over by 35 kings during its capital times and thus it is the first indigenous source of true national art and culture of the country of Thailand. The Ayutthaya Historical Park is the heritage of the whole country. It is for this reason the whole ruin is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many sites like Wat Mahathat, Wat Phanan Choeng, Japanese Settlement, Elephant Camp and so on in the park that keeps the tourist interested and awestruck by the glorified tales of the land.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was founded on 16 November 1945 as the United Nation’s specialized agency.
UNESCO has 195 Members and 10 Associate Members. It is governed by the General Conference and the Executive Board. The Secretariat, headed by the Director-General, implements the decisions of these two bodies.
The Organization has 54 field offices around the world. Its headquarters are located in Paris, France.
Its mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.
The Organization focuses, in particular, on two global priorities, Africa and Gender equality, and supports the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, through all its programmes.