The Kingdom of Siam

Thailand wasn’t always called Thailand, and its capital wasn’t always Bangkok. The country was once called Siam, and from 1350 to 1767, Ayutthaya was the center of the government.

For most of Siam’s history, there have been battles with Burma. Ayutthaya was attacked by Burmese forces in 1767. It was mostly destroyed in that battle. The Thai royalty escaped and moved down the Chao Phraya River to Bangkok. This is where they set up their new capital.

It was quiet at Ayutthaya. Huge Buddhism monasteries and temples still stand, but the kings and princes have been gone for hundreds of years. Once, almost one million people lived here! Today, I was almost alone, surrounded by old and empty buildings.

Today, most of Thailand’s government is located at the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok. It was built in 1782, shortly after the fall of Ayutthaya. Looking around it was easy to see the similarities between the Grand Palace and Ayutthaya. It was as if someone restored the city of Ayutthaya, and then painted it gold.