The Grand Palace is a highlight of Wat Phra Kaew
Modern history meets ancient history at the Grand Palace of Wat Phra Kaew
Having previously written about the Wat Phra Kaew in beautiful downtown Bangkok, Thailand, here is quickie on the Grand Palace of Thailand – located on the back end of the compound. The Grand Palace certainly gives credence to the name. Constructed during the reign of King Rama V from 1897 to 1903. The new palace, Phra Thinang Boromphiman (pictured above), was built over the site of an old armory after King Rama V had it demolished. The new palace was intended as a gift to the first Crown Prince of Siam, Prince Maha Vajirunhis. It was originally named Phra Thinang Phanumart Chamroon, however before the construction was finished the prince died of typhoid at the age of 16. Once completed the palace was handed to the next heir, Crown Prince Maha Vajiravudh, who ascended the throne in 1910 as Rama VI. He later gave the palace its present name (Wiki). After seeing the Phra Thinang Boromphiman, you can literally turn around and see the original palace shining in the sunlight.
The Grand Palace (Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang) served as the official residence of the kings of Siam (and now Thailand, for those who haven’t watched the play “The King and I”) since 1782. The king, his court and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. The present monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) currently resides at Chitralada Palace but the Grand Palace is still used for official events. Several royal ceremonies and state functions are held within the walls of the palace every year. As mentioned in my previous post, the palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand and on this day it was easy to see why.
Construction of the palace began on May 6, 1782, at the order of King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I), the founder of the Chakri Dynasty, when he moved the capital city from Thonburi to Bangkok. Throughout successive reigns, many new buildings and structures were added, especially during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). By 1925, the king, the Royal Family and the government were no longer permanently settled at the palace, and had moved to other residences. After the abolition of absolute monarchy in 1932, all government agencies completely moved out of the palace.
The palace complex is roughly rectangular and has a combined area of a massive 218,400 square meters (2,351,000 sq ft) surrounded by four walls. It is situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River at the heart of the Rattanakosin Island, today in the Phra Nakhon District. The Grand Palace is made up of numerous buildings, halls, pavilions set around open lawns, gardens and courtyards. Its asymmetry and eclectic styles are due to its organic development with additions and rebuilding being made by successive reigning kings over 200 years of history. The Grand Palace is currently partially open to the public as a museum, but it remains a working palace, with several royal offices still situated inside. After our walkthrough of the Grand Palace, we headed down the road to check out some other sites and grabbed a cab back to our hotel. As always, a quick drive through Southeast Asia can lead to its own little adventure.