Bangkok’s Grand Palace

 In 1956, actor Yul Brynner, as the king of Siam, sang and danced through a gilded palace in the movie, “The King and I.” The country of Siam has since changed its name to Thailand, but its Grand Palace in Bangkok is still something to sing about.

The older Thai capital at Ayutthaya in the North had been destroyed in 1767 during a war with Burma, and newly proclaimed King Rama I ordered his men to remove bricks and other materials from the forts, walls and palaces (but not the temples) of this ruined city and send them by barge down the Chao Phraya river to the new capital city of Bangkok. Not only was he updating his wooden palace, but to solidify fortifications around his riverside capital, Rama I dug canals along its eastern edge, turning the city into an artificial island.

The Grand Palace is not one large structure in the tradition of most European palaces. It’s divided into four main courts separated by walls and gates and originally housing royal offices, state ministries, the royal chapel, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, ceremonial throne halls, and the king’s harem quarters. After a second expansion during the reign of Rama II, the palace covered an area of 2,351,000 square feet and was Thailand’s administrative and religious center, with thousands of inhabitants including guardsmen, servants, concubines, princesses, ministers and courtiers. And just like Rome’s Vatican City, the Grand Palace was considered a city within a city, subject to its own set of laws.

Gradually the government ministries grew in size and moved to other locations. The King, too, relocated to more modern palaces. In 1932, a student-launched revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy of King Rama VII, replacing it with a constitutional monarchy. Today, the Grand Palace still serves as a royal ceremonial venue, as well as a museum and tourist attraction.

I found the Grand Palace to be a photographer’s eye-candy wonderland rife with golden temples; bejeweled pavilions; and giant, elaborately painted warriors. I’d love to return, without having to follow a tour guide, and get lost in the visual magic of it all. Have you been to Bangkok’s Grand Palace? If so, what were your impressions?

Click on any image to see the slideshow.

Categories: Architecture, Art, Asia, culture, History, Photography, Stock Photography, Thailand, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Bangkok’s Grand Palace

  1. The detail and opulence is quite remarkable, isn’t it? Definitely a photographers paradise. I remember that movie well. I’ve watched it many times. Somehow it never occurred to me that it was a real place. Extravagant, Hollywood sets was my thinking at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what amazed me, too, Michelle. It was really quite overwhelming, especially trying to compose shots and not lose the tour guide at the same time. I’m sure the whole thing was set on a Hollywood lot, but that there was really an opulent palace in a country called Siam never occurred to me either (I never paid much attention to history in school—boring dates and such—but now I love it).

      Liked by 1 person

    • So true! And that is one of the things that makes travel so appealing.

      Like

  2. Nisha

    I am yet to write about it. Visited twice. But you can see some pictures under Bangkok on my blog.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nisha, I checked out your blog and found some Thailand photos, including a couple of the temples I saw in Bangkok. Love your photos of Thai costumes and headdresses. They are just as ornate as the temples.

      Like

  3. I had two Thai students stay with me last year and can’t wait to visit one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How lucky you were, Jo. So much insight into the country that most tourists never get. I look forward to reading your posts when you finally get there.

    Like

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