For many foreigners the name conjures up irresistible images of lost oriental kingdoms and tropical splendour. -Emma Larkin
Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was once the seat of power in Thailand—it was the capital of Siam until a Burmese invasion destroyed it the 1760’s, at the climax of a 14-month long siege. The city was burned, and along with it much of the art, literature, and historical records that defined an apparent golden age of Thai history: the Ayutthaya Kingdom.
What remains is a collection of temples tombs, and ruins. Walking amongst them is a unique and at times overwhelming experience. I was at all times affected by thoughts such as this: Where I now step, once stepped kings.
It was incredible to stand in a literal slice of history. I have rarely been so directly faced with the age of our world. It is so old. Our species is so old. I am so young.
Instead of narrating the entire trip as I normally would, I want to let the photos tell the story.
You can see all of Ayutthaya in this picture. Gorgeous red bricks. The remains of a statue that was once important. A hint of continued life within the ruin: the shroud of orange cloth that surrounds the ghost of history.
Wishing stones stacked at Wat Phra Si Sanphet, just between the tombs of two Kings of Siam.
Once upon a time, this glorious area had walls and columns, and chanting monks, and statues that still had arms and heads. Remarkably, centuries after the slaughter and ruination, it still has a lively magic.
Not a ruin, but this temple near Wat Phra Si Sanphet houses one of the world’s largest bronze Buddha statues.
One of the world’s biggest Buddha statues.
This massive pile of bricks was once home to the monks of Wat Mahathat. There is no longer an entrance.
One of the largest remnants of the detailing that once encased all of the brickwork.
A leaning pagoda.
During the Burmese invasion, the head was knocked off a statue of Buddha, and landed nearby. Over the centuries, the roots of a bodhi tree grew around the head. Now Buddha is encased within the tree.
This chedi is a tomb. Buried within is Ramathibodi II, one of the ancient Kings of Siam who ruled from Ayutthaya. To get a sense of scale, notice Hannah at the bottom.
A pagoda in Wat Mahathat.
Hannah stands in the ruins of Wat Mahathat.