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Just 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Bangkok is the old Siamese capitol of Ayutthaya. The city became Siam's capital in the mid-fourteenth century and remained the capital until the late eighteenth century, when the Burmese attacked and sacked the city. Now a world heritage site, the city makes an excellent day trip from Bangkok, and an even better two or three day escape from the big city for those interested in a deeper understanding of Thai history.
The Ayutthaya period is looked on by many as the time when much of what is now thought of as "Thai style" was developed. In temples, this is when you see a marked transition from the Khmer style prangs to the bell shaped chedi. While Sukhothai further north is seen as the birth of the Thai kingdom, Ayutthaya is seen today as its high point. Around Ayutthaya are signs of the Japanese, French, Dutch and Portuguese traders that came to the Thai court.
Although usually visited as part of a packaged day trip from Bangkok, which may also include a stop at the Bang Pa In summer palace, there's actually a lot to see in the ancient city, for those with a keen interest in art, architecture and archeology. This ebook guide provides detailed information about all the sights of the world heritage site, as well as suggestions for getting there and away, where to stay, and how to get around. Also included is a guide to the Bang Pa In summer palace.
- Michael Holland, March 2012
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