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Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is one of Thailand’s historical and majestic highlights. The capital of Thailand, then known as the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya was one of the biggest cities in Southeast Asia and a regional power for 417 years. Although there are numerous attractions, the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park in the heart of Ayutthaya city is a UNESCO’s World Heritage site and a wonder to behold.

Once the capital of the Thai Empire, Ayutthaya was a truly impressive city; with three palaces and over 400 temples, located on an island threaded by canals, it attracted traders and diplomats from both Europe and Asia. In 1767, 417 years after it was founded and 15 months after the siege began, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was conquered, and the city’s magnificent structures were almost completely destroyed by Burmese invaders. When King Taksin the Great finally liberated the Kingdom, a new dynasty was established and the capital was moved to Thonburi, across the river from modern-day Bangkok.

The ruins that now remain, many of which have been painstakingly restored, have been granted World Heritage status by UNESCO. The architecture of Ayutthaya is a fascinating mix of Khmer and early Sukhothai styles. Some cactus-shaped obelisks, called prangs, denote Khmer influence and look something like the famous towers of Angkor Wat. The more pointed stupas are ascribed to the Sukhothai influence.

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