Exploring Ancient Ayutthaya

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This week I got the opportunity to explore the relics of ancient Ayutthaya. The city of Ayutthaya is a small island surrounded by three rivers, which enabled the trading between Thai locals and the Dutch and Portuguese, as well as the Chinese and Malayans. During the Ayutthaya period in 1351-1767, Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand, which was called Siam at the time due to it political and economic powers. This period was considered the golden age of Thai literature, art, and trade. 

During the mid-16th century, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was under repeated attacks by Burma, to which the Thai continuously fought off the Burmese invasions. In 1584, King Naresuan declared Ayutthaya’s independence. During the mid-18th century, the power of Ayutthaya slowly declined as fighting between political officials escalate. Finally, in 1767, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was brought down by Burmese armies. The city of Ayutthaya was burned and destroyed. 

Despite the defeat by Burma, Siam quickly recovered. Within a year, the Burmese occupation army was defeated and Siamese states were re-established. Since Ayutthaya was abandoned during the last invasion, the city never fully recovered. I got to visit Ayutthaya this week and all that remained was the ruins of Ayutthaya’s Grand Palace. Not much of ancient Ayutthaya was preserved since Ayutthaya was never rebuilt after the defeat. Although only small relics of the palace remain, I was still taken by awe from the beauty and historical context that was told through what was left. 

The relics depict both the peak and destruction of Ayutthaya. I can only imagine how the kingdom was during its peak when all the buildings stood strong and the locals would walk around. The buildings were beautiful and articulately built, suiting of the description as the golden age of Thai art. The relics of Ayutthaya also told another story; a story of struggle, fear, and death. My imagination of people walking around selling and buying items turned into an image of people frantically running and looking for any way out of Ayutthaya as the Burmese army invaded the city. It was definitely a great moment to be able to experience what was left of ancient Ayutthaya.