Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 and remained the Siamese
capital for 417 years. The architecture is
a fascinating mix of Khmer (ancient Cambodian
style) and early Sukhothai style. Some cactus-shaped
obelisks, called prangs, denote Khmer influence
and look something like the famous towers
of Angkor Wat. The more pointed stupas are
ascribed to the Sukhothai influence.
Ayutthaya, the former Thai capital, in its heyday was
a city of more than a million people with
5,000 foreign traders and emissaries. It
was one of the biggest cities in the world.
During the 17th century, most foreign traders
and diplomats claimed Ayutthaya to be the
most illustrious and glittering city that
they had ever visited.
Today, the main island is an ensemble of golden stupas and crumbling temples with rows of headless Buddhas, removed during the Burmese invasion. We cruised on the river circumnavigating the island from where you can view more of the many temples and the town life. In October 2013 there were severe floods and much of Ayutthaya was under several metres of water.
Wat Mahathat – Over 600 years old, Wat Maha was
the heart and soul of the Ayutthaya people.
It was almost completely destroyed by the
Burmese during the Thai-Burmese War. There
is a Buddha head enshrined in the trees and
many of the stupas 'Chedi' look lean
at more of an angle than the tower of Pisa!