Historic City of Ayutthaya, Thailand

The ancient capital of Thailand

By CyArk

CyArk

Aerial view of Wat Phra Si San Phet by CyArkCyArk

Introducing the City of Ayutthaya

Founded in 1350 CE, Ayutthaya was the Kingdom of Thailand’s capital until the 18th century. Ayutthaya developed into a booming city, and was very influential in the urban planning and design of the current capital city of Bangkok in Thailand. The site is home to Buddhist temples that feature a wide variety of religious art and artifacts from the 14th to 18th centuries.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet chedis by CyArkCyArk

Historic Context

King Uthong, a Chinese merchant, founded Ayutthaya in 1350 CE when he moved his court from Uthong to avoid an epidemic. The city was named after Ayodhya, the home of Rama, who is the hero in the Hindu epic called Ramayana. Through conquest, expansion, and trade, Ayutthaya grew in size and economic influence, quickly surpassing the power of the old capital city of the Kingdom of Thailand. Ayutthaya was quickly declared the new capital city by King Uthong (also known as King Ramathibodi I) before he died in 1369. The city was attacked and burned to the ground in 1767 C.E. by the Burmese army. After the destruction of Ayutthaya, the capital was moved to Bangkok and there was an effort to recreate the urban template and architecture of Ayutthaya. In Thai, the official name of Bangkok retains “Ayutthaya'' as a part of its formal title.

Buddha statue near Wat Phra Si San Phet by CyArkCyArk

Ayutthaya Today

The city of Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the site’s architecture, art, and urban development. It is also currently protected by Thai law under the Act on Ancient monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums. The city of Ayutthaya and its modern development have left the temples scattered between residential and commercial buildings, so there is currently an effort to expand the boundaries of the historical park to protect the remaining temples and ruins. The temples are still visited today by many, and there are several tours that advertise river views of many of the temples.

Wat Phra Si San Phet Ayutthaya by CyArkCyArk

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Wat Phra Si Sanphet was the most important temple in Ayutthaya. Being a temple of the royal family, there were no quarters for monks, and the site was used exclusively for royal ceremonies. Its three chedis, which would have been covered in gold, are believed to hold the ashes of three Kings: King Trailok, King Borom Ratchathirat III and King RamaThibodi II. All of the temples gold, including its gold covered 16m tall Buddha was taken by the Burmese army. The three bell shaped chedis are a symbol for Thailand today.

CyArk documents Ayutthaya with drone by CyArkCyArk

Expedition Overview

The CyArk field mission to Ayutthaya took place in June 2017. The archaeological complex of Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the focus of the expedition, was impacted during a major flood event in 2011.The primary purpose of the trip was to assist UNESCO and the Fine Arts Department (FAD) of Thailand in mapping the site and providing detailed documentation surrounding the subsidence of the monuments.  The documentation was conducted utilizing LiDAR and both aerial and terrestrial photogrammetry. Our work was supported through a generous grant from Seagate.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet rainbow by CyArkCyArk

Additional Resources

For more information on this site, its history and additional resources relating to CyArk’s work please visit

CyArk Ayutthaya Resources.

Credits: Story

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This project was made possible through the generous support of Seagate and the following partners:

Fine Arts Department of Thailand

UNESCO Bangkok

Credits: All media
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