fig tree in
Wat Mahatat, Ayutthaya
King Ramathibodi I (Uthong) founded Ayutthaya as the capital of his kingdom in 1350 and absorbed Sukhothai, 640 km to the north, in 1376. Over the next four centuries the kingdom expanded to become the nation of Siam, whose borders were roughly those of modern Thailand. Ayutthaya was friendly towards foreign traders, including the Chinese, Indians, Japanese and Persians, and later the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, British and French, permitting them to set up villages outside the city walls. The court of King Narai (1656-1688) had strong links with that of King Louis XIV of France, whose ambassadors compared the city in size and wealth to Paris.
In 1767 Ayutthaya was invaded and destroyed by Burma. All that remains of the old city are some impressive ruins of the royal palace. King Taksin established a capital at Thonburi, across the Chao Phraya from the present capital, Bangkok.
The ruins of the historic city of Ayutthaya and "associated historic towns" in the Ayutthaya historical park have been listed by the UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. The city of Ayutthaya was refounded near the old city, and is now capital of the Ayutthaya province.
The Ayutthaya Dynasty