The Royal Palace
King Ramathibodi l (U Thong) founded the city of
Ayutthaya in 1350 A.D. At that time he ordered the building of a royal palace
to be used as the royal residence. It was located at what is now Wat Phra Si
Sanphet. Five royal halls are known to us by the names of Phaitun Mahaprasat,
Phaichayon Mahaprasat, Aisawan Mahaprasat, Mangkhalaphisek Mahaprasat and
Trimuk Hall, Successive kings inhabited the royal palace for 98 years.
King Borommatrailokanat ascended the throne in
1448 A.D. and, having handed over the former palace to be used for activities
related to the Wat, set up his new palace in the sector north of the royal
palace dwelling, near the Lopburi River (the northern city moat). The royal
halls of Bencharatana Mahaprasat and Sanphet Mahaprasat were built first,
followed by the royal hall of Mangkhalaphisek, which was given the title Viharn
Somdet. The latter must have been built in a reign subsequent to that of
Borommatrailokanat but evidence for this theory is not clear. Sixteen kings
during their ascendancy lived in these royal halls for 182 yaars.
King Prasathong extended the palace so
that parts of it adjoined Wat Phra Si Sanphet , and commanded the construction
of two additional royal halls, namely the Suriyal Amarin and Chakkrawat
Phaichayon. Later on King Narai the Great built the Banyong Ratanat. The royal
palace in the later stages of Ayutthaya had six halls and was dwelt in by ten
kings throughout a period of 137 years until the sack of the capital in 1767
There are eight forts all around the palace including twenty-two gates (two built over the water) and one other small entrance.
The grounds of the royal palace can be categorized as followed:
1. The outer palace, where the Chakkrawat Phaichayon was situated, along with various offices for royal officials; for example, buildings for the royal Court and the accounts department.
2. The middle section of the palace, having three halls: the Viharn Sorndet, Sanphet Prasat and Suriyat Amarin. Here were also situated some parts of the royal treasury plus stables for the kings white elephants and horses.
3. The inner area, in which there could be found the Banyong Ratanat and the Bencharatana Mahaprasat, living quarters and the royal kitchen.
4. The Phaichayon Bencharatana Garden in which was the great treasury designated by various names.
5. The Suan A-ngun (Grape Garden), the royal garden of the palace, in which there were the Sa Kaeo and the Sala Luat pavilions.
6. The area of Wat Phra Si Sanphet, where the royal temple of the palace was located.
7. The Suan Kratai (Rabbit Garden), where Prince Phonphinit lived, the heir to the throne during the reign of King