Monday, March 29, 2010

The Royal Palace at Bang Pa-In




















The Royal Palace at Bang Pa-In has a history dating back to the 17 th century. According to a chronicle of Ayutthaya, King Prasat Thong (1629-1656) had a palace constructed on Bang Pa-In Island in the Chao Phraya River. A contemporary Dutch merchant, Jeremias van Vliet, reported that King Prasat Thong was an illegitimate son of King Ekathotsarot (1605-1610/11), who in his youth was shipwrecked on that island and had son by a woman who befriended him. The boy grew up to become the Chief Minister. After having usurped the throne, he became known as King Prasat Thong. The King founded a monastery, Wat Chumphon Nikayaram, on the land belonging to his mother on Bang Pa-In Island, and then had a pond dug and a palace built to the south of that monastery. The chronicle records the name of only one building, the Aisawan Thiphaya-art Royal Residence, which was constructed in 1632, the year of the birth of his son, the future King Narai (1656-1688). It is not known whether or not the palace was in use till the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. However by 1807, when the Kingdom's best known poet, Sunthon Phu, sailed past Bang Pa-In, only a memory of the palace remained, for the site was neglected and overgrown.








The palace was revived by King Rama IV of the Chakri Dynasty, better known in the West as King Mongkut (1851-1868), who had a temporary residence constructed on the outer island that became the site of the Neo-Gothic style monastery, Wat Niwet Thamprawat, which was built by his son and heir, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V).

The present-day royal palace dates from the reign of King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910), when most of the buildings standing today were constructed between 1872-1889. Today the palace is used occasionally by Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) and Queen Sirikit as a residence and for holding receptions and banquets.

Location : Ayutthaya


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