Bangkok Grand Palaces & Wat Phra Kaeo

Grand Palace Bangkok

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo was built by King Rama I, the first monarch of the Chakri Dynasty, as the royal compound in 1782, when Bangkok was founded. The 60 acre area surrounded by 1,900 meters (2,110 yards) white walls, consists of more than 100 uniquely beautiful buildings and throne halls with highly decorated architectural details

The Grand Palace was the King’s official residence in 1782 to 1946, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) was the last monarch to live here. Today, the royal family (King Rama IX) resides at Chitlada Palace. 

Also located in the grounds of the Grand Palace is the Royal Thai Decorations and coins Pavillion displaying examples of Thai currency through the ages and collections of commemorative coins.

The Grand Palace has an area of 218,400 sq. metres and is surrounded by walls built in 1782. The length of the four walls is 1,900 metres. Within these walls are situated government offices and the Chapel Royal of the Emerald Buddha besides the royal residences.

When Siam restored law and order after the fall of Ayutthaya the monarch lived in Thonburi on the west side of the river. Rama I, on ascending the throne, moved the centre of administration to this side of the Chao Phraya; and, after erecting public monuments such as fortifications and monasteries, built a palace to serve not only as his residence but also his offices–the various ministries, only one of which remains in the palace walls.

This palace came to be known as the Grand Palace, in which the earliest edifices contemporary with the foundation of Bangkok were the two groups of residences named the Dusit Maha Prasat and the Phra Maha Monthian

The Chapel Royal of The Emerald Buddha

Just north of the Royal Residence of the Maha Monthian from which there is a connecting gate lies The Chapel Royal of The Emerald Buddha. It consists of all the architectural features of the monastery without however the residential quarter, for monks do not live here. The Assembly Hall, or Ubosoth, serves as the monarch’s private chapel.

Hence the partition on either side of the main altar intended as a retiring room,which is never to be found anywhere else but the only other chapel royal, that of the King of Thonburi, which serves now as the Assembly Hall of the monastery of Arun within the former grounds of the palace of that king. The “Emerald Buddha” is carved from a block of jade. It is an object of national veneration and crowds come to pay respect to the memory of the Buddha and His Teachings on certain days of the weeks when it is open to the public.

The Galleries

The Chapel Royal ground is enclosed by galleries, the murals of which depict the story of the Ramakien of the first reign version. If we start at the east gate we come to the initial stages of the war waged by Rama of Ayodthaya to rescue his wife who had been abducted by Thotsakan (Ravana), King of Longka. 

Phra Maha Monthian 

This consists of three main buildings, namely :
– the Audience Hall of Amarin Winitchai, where ceremonies of the Court usually take place in front of the throne.
-Paisal Taksin Hall where the coronation of a monarch takes place with its coronation chair and the octagonal seat where the monarch receives the people’s invitation to rule.
– Chakrapat Phiman is a building which was the residence of King Rama I, Rama II and Rama III.

Chakri Maha Prasat Hall 

The Chakri Group was built and resided in by King Chulalongkorn, Rama V (1868-1910). Only the reception portion is now used, consisting of two wings for reception purposes decorated with galleries of portraiture. In between is the central throne-hall now used for various purposes and formerly for the reception of foreign envoys on the occasions of the presentation of their credentials. It is aptly decorated with four canvasses of diplomatic receptions.

Dusit Maha Prasat Hall

This is an audience hall with a throne of mother-of-pearl surmounted by the usual nine-tiered white canopy, the mark of a duly crowned king. At the back of this audience hall is yet a living quarter. All are built in pure Siamese architecture of perfect proportions.

The Upper Terrace

Within the complex are many buildings for diverse purposes and in differing styles reflecting the architecture of the various reigns. However, despite their differences the most of the structures adhere strictly to traditional Thai style, their diversity lying rather in certain details or construction materials. There are 12 smalls pavilions surrounding the Ubosot (Chapel). Beside that, Phra Sri Rattana Chedi is on the left, Phra Mondop (Library) is on the middle and on the right is Prasart Phra Thep Bidorn are situated in The Upper Terrace.

Borom Phiman Mansion

Phra Thinang Borom Phiman: built in the western style in 1903 by King Rama V for the Heir Apparent, the future King Rama VI, this mansion was also used at various times as a royal residence by King Rama VII (1925-1935), King Rama VIII (1935-1946), and the present King Rama IX. At present the Borom Phiman Mansion serves as the Royal Guest House for visiting Heads of State and guests of Their Majesties.

Phra Asada Maha Chedi

The “Eight Prangs” The form of a Thai Prang (tower) derives from the Khmer prasat, but whereas a prasat is “a residence of a king or a god,” a prang has the same function as a chedi. The “Eight Prangs” are of different colours. Each one is dedicated to a certain Buddhist concept.Amarin

Winitchai Hall

Phra Thinang Amarin Winitchai ( Throne Hall ) 
Originally this was the Principal Audience Hall of the Middle Palace in which officials of state and foreign ambassadors were received in audience. Today it has the same functions as before with the exception that ambassadors no longer present their credentials here. The hall contains two thrones.

Wat Phra Kaeo

The temple of Emerald Buddha is the royal temple in Chakri Dynasty, located in the grounds of the Grand Palace, officially name is Wat Phrasri Rattanasasadaram. Along the cloister wall surrounding the temple are mural paintings depicting scenes from the Ramayana (Ramakien) story, inside the temple, murals depict of the Buddha.

Ubosot (chapel) of Wat Phra Kaeo

Emerald Buddha is the most sacred statue in Thailand. It was discovered in the north in 1434, taken to Laos in 1551, and recaptured and returned to Thailand in 1778. The statue is 30″ tall, and made of green jasper. The king himself changes its garments three times a year, at the beginning of each of the three seasons: summer, rainy season and winter. 

Memorial Chedi

Flanking the east arm of the Royal Pantheon are two memorial chedis, gilded with gold leaf over bronze, that Rama I built for his parents. The first course of the chedi is upheld by telamons, decorated in glass mosaic, that surround the base.

Elevated Platform

An elevated platform in the center of Phra Kaeo supports several important buildings. Looking northwest from the south side of the platform, the structures are: Phra Sri Ratana (the large gilt chedi, photo center background); Phra Mondhop (the circular building, a repository for Buddhist scriptures, photo center right); and Prasat Phra Thep Bidorn (the Royal Pantheon, photo right foreground). In the left foreground is a small pavillion associated with the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Phra Sri Ratana

The chedi was built by Rama IV to house a relic of the Buddha. Having four directional entrances, its form imitates the Phra Sri Ratana chedi in Ayutthaya.

Prasat Phra Thep Bidorn

The Royal Pantheon was originally built by Rama IV to contain the Emerald Buddha. Proving too small for this purpose, it is now filled with other relics, including statues of the early kings in Bangkok.

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