The impressive ruins of Wat Ratchaburana contain walls, columns, chedis, and the prang which is a mix of Indian and Burmese styles.
Immediately across the road from Wat Ratchaburana stands Wat Mahathat which tradition claims was erected in 1384 by King Ramesuen. He is also said to have built the central prang to house a relic of the Buddha. This however is considered doubtful; according to a more reliable source the first buildings on the site, including the above-mentioned prang, were actually constructed by King Boromaraja I (1370-88). The prang, 46 m (150 ft) high, is one of the old city's most impressive edifices. In about 1625 the top portion broke off, being rebuilt in 1633 some 4 m (13 ft) higher than before. Later it collapsed again and only the corners survived. In 1956 a secret chamber was uncovered in the ruins; among the treasures found inside were gold jewelry, a gold casket containing a relic of the Buddha, and fine tableware. Scattered around the temple are some important remains of variously shaped prangs and chedis, in particular an octagonal chedi with a truncated spire in the Ceylonese style. Near by, the head of a still much revered statue of the Buddha lies on the ground.
Wat Boroma Buddha Ram
Wat Boroma Buddha Ram, of which only the walls remain, was built in 1683 during the reign of King Narai. In about 1740 the three doors into the bot were embellished with wooden panels inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Following the sacking of Ayutthaya these exquisite works of art were moved to Bangkok, one being installed in Wat Benchama bo bitr (the Marble Temple) and another in Wat Phra Kaeo in the Grand Palace. The third was made into a bookcase which is now in the National Museum in the capital.
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
Further along on the right, past the Ayutthaya provincial government offices, the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum was founded by King Bhumibol in 1961. It houses some valuable and interesting items in the Lopburi, U Thong, Ayutthaya, Dvaravati and Sukhothai styles including finds from Ayutthaya, sculptures in bronze and stone, terracotta and lacquer work, ceramics, wood-carvings, votive panels and gold jewelry set with precious stones. Outstanding among the many earlier works of art are a seated Buddha (Dvaravati, 11-12th. c.) and a huge bust of the Buddha in the U Thong style.
Bear to the left on leaving the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum from where it is only a short walk to Sanaam Luang (also known as Phra Men Ground); in the western corner stands the Wiharn Phra Mongkol Bo bitr. This was re-erected in 1956 by Thailand's then prime minister Pibulsonggram, in a style identical to the original - the latter having been burned down during the sacking of Ayutthaya and eventually collapsing. Rebuilding the wiharn made it possible to return the much revered and historically important bronze statue of the Buddha, one of the largest in Thailand, to its rightful place, where it had stood since 1603. Although little is known of the statue's early history the combination of U Thong and Sukhothai elements suggest the figure was probably cast in the reign of King Boroma Trailokanat (1448-88). It was he who introduced the Sukhothai style into the design of Buddhas and chedis in Ayutthaya, superceding the Khmer style which had been in vogue until then. Although over the years the statue has been several times restored, it remains little changed in appearance. Some years ago hundreds of small figures were discovered inside it. The artistically inferior ornamentation on the base was added in 1931.
Wat Phra Ram
Bordered by a pond the nearby Wat Phra Ram with its imposing Elephant Gates was begun by King Ramesuen in 1369. Since then it has been restored and enlarged many times. Of particular interest are the gallery adorned with nagas and garudas and the numerous shattered statues of the Buddha on the wat's wide terrace.
Khun Phaen House
Khun Phaen House is built on an artificial island where a prison once stood. The traditional Thai house, one of the very few remaining, was constructed in 1940 from material salvaged from other old dwellings. It is not unlike Jim Thompson's House in Bangkok.
The Wat Phra Si Sanphet, commonly known as the King's Temple, is an interesting attraction with historical significance.
Sanphet Praset Palace
Wiharn Somdet was built in 1643 during the reign of King Prasat Thong. Records show it to have had two fairly large tower-like porticoes front and rear, with a further two smaller ones at the sides. It was also the first building in Ayutthaya to be paneled in gold, as a result of which it was popularly known as the "Golden Palace".
Chakravat Phaichayon Building
Prasat Thong was also responsible for the construction in 1632 of the Chakravat Phaichayon Building from where royal processions and military parades started out.
Banyong Ratanat Building
The Banyong Ratanat Building, begun around 1688 under Prasat Thong's son Narai and completed by King Petraja, is situated on an artificial island in the west of the complex. It was used by Petraja as his residence throughout his reign (1688-1702).
Suriyat Amarindra Building
This building, of which only a high wall remains, was erected by King Narai in the latter part of the 17th c. The royal white elephants used to be stabled near by.
Passing the overgrown ruins of Wat Thammikarat - an extremely large temple of which there remain sections of the terrace, the pillars of the portico and a chedi with a crooked spire - rejoin U Thong Road from where a small bridge crosses the Lopburi to Wat Na Phra Men on the opposite bank. The temple is well worth a visit.
King Chulalongkorn rebuilt the Trimuk Building, an open pavilion standing on a broad terrace, in 1907. It has been the venue for many a ceremony held in honor of former rulers of Ayutthaya by a succession of kings, including the present King Bhumibol. An earlier building of unknown age on the site was burned down in 1427.
Wat Na Phra Men
Wat Na Phra Men is one of the very few temples to have escaped destruction by the Burmese. It is not known when the temple was built, existing records showing merely that it was restored under King Boromakot (1732-58) and again during the Early Bangkok period. The bot is a large, imposing building with beautiful wood-carvings on the gable and door panels. The triple-tiered roof and large portico, the latter flanked by two graceful little porches, are fine examples of Thai artistry. Inside the bot two rows of octagonal columns supporting the richly carved ceiling add to the impression of height. Most unusually the large figure of Buddha appears in royal garb.The small but beautifully proportioned wiharn houses a stone Buddha seated in European style, one of the best-preserved statues from the Dvaravati era (6th-10th/11th c.). An inscription in the wiharn claims, almost certainly incorrectly, that the statue came originally from Wat Phra Mahathat in Ayutthaya. Most of the evidence points, on the contrary, to this particular Buddha having stood, together with three others identical to it, in Nakhon Pathom's Wat Phra Men, where its richly ornamented stone base has been found. Parts of the base are displayed in the National Museum in Bangkok.
Wat Yana Sen
Recrossing the bridge and once more turning left, follow the road alongside the Lopburi River for about 800 m (2400 ft) to Wat Yana Sen, a temple with a tall chedi embellished with niches. Its fine, well-balanced structure is typical of the Ayutthaya style.From Wat Yana Sen can be seen two of the most important ruined temples in Ayutthaya, Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Mahathat.
Chandra Kasem Museum
The Chandra Kasem Museum is well worth a prolonged visit. The exhibits include statues of Buddha and Bodhisattva, gold and decorative work, carvings, tympana, and various domestic and religious objects dating from the 13th to the 17th centuries. The museum is housed in a palace which was rebuilt by King Mongkut (Rama IV); originally occupied by the heir to the throne it was later used as a residence for royalty visiting Ayutthaya. While the items on display scarcely do justice to the power and magnificence of the early Thai kings, they do offer an insight into the lives of the city's inhabitants.Passing Fort Phom Mahachei and then the landing-stage, U Thong Road continues round via the comparatively uninteresting Wat Prasat back to the start of the tour.
Map of Ayutthaya Attractions