The Grand Palace In Bangkok Thailand
Thailand has a long royal history, stretching back to 1238 when King Sri Indraditya unified the Kingdom of Sukhothai; precursor to the modern nation that is one of the few Asian countries never to have been colonised. Consequently, Bangkok – capital city since 1768 – has a rich royal heritage, with the city’s historic palaces now major tourist attractions.
The Grand Palace is probably the most popular attraction in Bangkok, built in 1782 by King Rama I following the establishment of Bangkok as Thailand’s new capital. The palace was designed to be bigger and grander than palaces built in previous eras – inspired by the political aim of underscoring the significance of the change of capital. The resultant opulent palace of jewels and gold is nowadays a ceremonial centre, though The Grand Palace was the Thai Royal Family’s official residence from 1782 to 1946.
The palace is found in a location known to tourists as ‘Royal Bangkok’, north of Khaosan Road at the end of Ratchadamnoen Nok Road. Ratchadamnoen Avenue – ‘the Royal Passage’ is at the heart of ‘Royal Bangkok’, linking the Dusit Palace to the north to the Grand Palace to the south. Other royal attractions in the area are the Royal Plaza, Ananta Samakorn and Abhisek Dusit Throne Halls, the Vimanmek Mansion, and Sanam Luang - the parkland site of all major royal ceremonies.
The Grand Palace has an area of 218,400 sq. metres and is surrounded by almost 2km of walls that date back to 1782. Within the walls are government offices, the former royal residences and the Chapel Royal of the Emerald Buddha. Two groups of residences, the Dusit Maha Prasat and the Phra Maha Monthian are the most ancient parts of the palace. The Palace is arranged in a rectangular shape, with the western side adjacent to the Chao Phraya River, the royal temple situated to the east side, and all structures facing north. The layout of the palace complex is concentric, with outer quarters, middle quarters and inner quarters.
Wat Pra Kaew is one of the palace’s most popular visitor attractions. Housing the Emerald Buddha, the temple is one of the most sacred in Thailand - The Emerald Buddha is Thai Buddhism’s most iconic representation. When visiting the temple, it is important to recognise that this is a place of worship and that must be respected. Local customs dictate that under no circumstances should feet be pointed at the Emerald Buddha – a sacrilegious act, and photography within the chapel is forbidden by law.
Visitors are required to dress appropriately when visiting the Grand Palace as guards enforce a certain dress code. To enter the Palace long sleeved shirts/blouses or long trousers or dresses/skirts should be worn, though it is possible to hire cloth at the gates of the Palace that can be wrapped and worn as a sarong.
When not being frequented by millions of visitors a year, the Grand Palace is used for many royal rituals: coronations, royal funerals, marriages and state banquets are all performed here.