Bang Pa-In Palace is located about 60km north of Bangkok by the Chao Phraya River, Thailand. This royal palace which is no longer being used by the Thai royal family except for rare ceremonial occasions was the official summer palace of Kings of Siam, which was built in 1632 by King Prasat Thong.
The palace is close to the city of Ayutthaya. This city was an important city at the crossroad of trades and travel between Asia and the rest of the world. It was the capital and filled with wealth, palaces, and temples.
During the 17th Century when King Ekathotsarot was sailing the river south of Ayutthaya he was stranded on a small island called Bang Pa-In. During his stay, he met a local woman who bore him an heir to the throne named King Prasat Thong.
In 1629 King Prasat Thong chose his birthplace to build the summer palace. This was the beginning of its history, however, in 1776 Burmese forces who had been in war for a long time invaded Ayutthaya and almost destroyed it. Later when the Burmese were deleted a new city emerged as the capital of Siam which we know now as Bangkok.
The palace came back into favor about 100 years later by King Mongkut also known as Rama IV. He and his successor King Chulalongkorn or known as Rama V. Rama V reformed the country abolishing slavery, providing freedom of religion among other things, he was also the first Thai monarch who traveled to western countries, therefore introduced western calendar to Thailand. This influenced also the revival of Bang Pa-In with a more international style of buildings. These buildings are designed around a lake.
Bang Pa-In Palace today:
So Bang Pa-In today is very much as it was redesigned by King Chulalongkorn. However, this part of history also included a tragedy. In 1880, King Chulalongkorn arranged a barge procession to go to the summer palace. However, he could not go and while the Queen Sunanda Kumariratana and Princess Kannabhorn Bejaratana were traveling their boat had an accident and since the common Thai law forbade commoners to touch the royalty, nobody dared to help as instructed by the officers, therefore, the queen and the princess drowned.
There are memorials to the queen and king’s children in the garden.
Among the buildings in Bang Pa-In garden, you will find:
Phra Thinang Warophat Phiman or the King’s Residence
It is a yellow and white, European style one-story mansion house that also housed the throne room.
This building which is a similar style as the king’s residence was built for the king’s brother. Today it is open to the public and used as a museum to exhibit the palace’s history.
Phra Thinang Wehart Chamrun
It is a Chinese style royal residence. It was built in 1889 as a gift from the Chinese. It is decorated in red and gold and Chinese ornamental tiles.
This means God King Goest Forth and it is the gatehouse to the palace and royal residences.
Translating into Divine Seat of Personal Freedom, this is an authentic Thai style architecture, it is a pavilion in the middle of the lake.
Ho Within Thasana
This is a red and yellow banded tower. It is a high-ground to observe the surrounding landscape.
The gardens are informal and surround the buildings with plants and flowers. There are hedges trimmed in form of elephant families. Bougainvilleas that bring a lot of colors to the landscape, as well as other tropical and sub-tropical plants and trees.
The address of the palace is: Tambon Ban Len, Amphoe Bang Pa-in
Chang Wat Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13160 Thailand. It is definitely worth a visit if you are visiting Thailand and don’t miss the temples in nearby Ayutthaya.