As far back as the 16th century, Ayutthaya also served as a rich and successful trading port and one of the most prosperous cities in the region at that time. During this era there were also three palaces in Ayutthaya: The Grand Palace, Chantharakasem Palace (the Front Palace) and Wang Lang Palace (the Rear Palace).
The province itself resides along the Chao Phraya River and is often referred to as an island as it very much has a connection with water on all sides as it abuts 3 of Thailand’s rivers, including the Pa Sak River as well as the Lop Buri River.
In fact, one of the ways that people can now visit Ayutthaya from Bangkok is to take a boat journey up the Chao Praya River. It is only 86 kilometers north of Thailand’s capital city and is known as the Venice of the Orient to some European visitors.
Today the old part of the city is known as the Ayutthaya Historical City Park, registered as a National Heritage Site with UNESCO, and serves as one of the most beautiful collections of pristine Buddhist temple ruins in all of Thailand.
Being located so close to Bangkok, I have made many visits there myself over the years. I always find it a very relaxing place and just enjoy going around looking at all the different ruins. And it seems no matter how many times I go there, I always discover something new about the historical city each time which I hadn’t seen before.
I also enjoy taking trips by boat and circling the old city to reminisce in the feeling of what it was like as a trading capital with boats accessing it by its various canals and inlets. And the expression of architectural beauty when you visit the ruins either from land or water is immense.
One of the most sacred and captivating relics in the entire city is the head of an ancient Buddha statue that has become entwined in a Bodhi tree. The tree cradles the sandstone headpiece in its roots and the calm and contented image of the Buddha emits a serene feeling out to its worshipers from its embrace of the tree. The temple where it is located, Wat Phra Mahathat, was built in the 13th century it is one of the largest of the historical sites in the park.
Ayutthaya is also known for where much of the central Royal Thai cuisine originated, but one of the local favorites is something known as Quidio Rua, which translates to mean ‘Boat Noodles’. Originally boat noodle soups were all prepared on boats with a mixture of noodles broth and with small pieces of meat and vegetables. They are served in a little bowl and most people will eat more than one to relieve their hunger.