I arrived in Ayutthaya by bus on my way to north, on my way to Mae Sot in July 2000.
Still was not clear to me where my soul was actually moving my life but exploring the city was the only thing.
Today of course I could not miss the famous ancient capital of the glorious Thai kingdom, Ayutthaya was defined more then once by travelers from Europe the Venice of Asia.
It is strange to move around a new town in classical Thai ugly urban development and to find ruins and historical parks all over.
I rented a bicycle, a cheap room in a guest house, and walking around I was trying to image this amazing place centuries ago during, during the golden age.
I know that the quality of these images is not so nice but I had with me just a cheap point and shoot camera bought in Pattaya for few bucks. Anyway you can find some good photos of Ayutthaya here.
The old Sukothai kingdom was not as powerful as it was before and the state was shrinking more and more, at the same time a new great power was growing in the south thanks to the fertility of the river Chao Phraya.
Ayutthaya was founded by King Ramathibodi, in year A.D. 1350 just 76 kilometers north of Bangkok.
From east the Khmers attacked Ayutthaya and, as an answer, the Thais took over Angkor in year 1431 A.D. After that the Khmers moved their capital to east to Phnom Penh.
During 1548 A.D. the King of Burma invaded Siam with the intent of sacking the main capital, Ayutthaya.
As was the custom at the time, King Maha Chakapat led his troops in the defense of the city from a top his war elephant.
Even though women were not permitted to take part in battle, Queen Suriyothai was so concerned for her husband that she disguised herself as a man and rode into battle on her own elephant.
During the battle with Burmese troops, King’s Maha Chakapat’s elephant collapsed from wounds and he was in danger of being killed. Queen Suriyothai rode her elephant to protect her husband and was killed by a scythe.
There is a memorial park dedicated to Queen Suriyothai outside of Ayutthaya; a large statue of the queen riding a war elephant.
In 2003 ”The Legend of Suriyothai” a spectacular 5 hours movie financed by Queen Sirikit and the Royal Family was released.
From west the King of Burma attacked Ayutthaya several times and he finally conquered the city in year 1569 A.D.
Ayutthaya became a satellite state to Burma and the sixteen years old Prince Naresuan was kidnapped and educated in the court of Burma as a warrior.
When he returned back to Ayutthaya Prince Naresuan was able to assemble his own army and liberated his land.
Because of this incredible victory King Naresuan was considered a real Thai hero, when he died in year 1605 A.D. Ayutthaya was at the top of its power and no enemy dared to attack the city for over 150 years. In 2007 ”The Legend of King Naresuan” a movie in 3 parts, follow up of ”The Legend of Suriyothai”, was released.
Ayutthaya became the capital of a glorious empire, a big and important city with international connections.
The Portuguese was invited as the first European country and they begin with trade in 1500 A.D. At the same time the name for the country Siam was taken.
Europeans defined Ayutthaya the Venice of Asia, the most beautiful city in the East.
Under this period Ayutthaya made trading agreements with Spain, Holland, England, Japan, Denmark and France.
The trading was not made by the Thais themselves, instead the business was lent over to Indians and Chinese who have immigrated in the kingdom.
Ayutthaya remained the capital of Siam for 417 years from 1350 A.D. until it was burned by the Burmese army in 1767 A.D. after 14 months of besiege.
Many Thais were killed and many became slaves, only 10.000 people was left in the city after the catastrophe.
The ruins of the old capital, in the Ayutthaya historical park, are now one of the major tourist attraction in Thailand and a since December 1991 UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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