The Thai Royal Grand Palace Bangkok Thailand
There are many Thai words in this blog so if you are listening to the Podcast the pronunciation of some words might not be correct. We apologize.
This city landmark should be the first place on any visitor’s itinerary. It is a huge compound on Na Phra Lan Road surrounded by high white walls and occupies an area of about a square mile. The Royal Palace, begun in 1782 when Bangkok was founded as the capital of Thailand, consists of several buildings with highly decorated architectural designs.
The royal chapel or Wat Phra Kaeo, situated in the same compound, enshrines the sacred Emerald Buddha image and is noted for its very beautiful architecture and decorative elements.
On the right hand side, before entering the palace’s inner gate is the Royal Thai Decorations and Coin Pavilion which displays coins and other monetary exchange units used in Thailand since the early 11th century AD, as well as Royal regalia, decorations and medals used in the former royal courts.
The complex is open daily from 8.30 a.m.-3.30 p.m. Admission fee is 125 baht. (including a ticket to Vimanmek Royal Mansion). Proper attire is essential.
Construction of the Royal Palace began in 1782 and was completed in time for the coronation of Rama 1. The original living quarters were temporary and made of wood and thatch and the walls surrounding the palace were made of wood palisades. After the coronation the King moved into a mansion built of permanent materials. The only other building of permanent material at the time was Wat Phra Si Rattanasatsadaram (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the forts along the walls.
The plan of this new Royal Palace follow that of the Ayutthaya period. Only the central building seen today was missing until constructed as the Chakri Maha Prasat during the reign of King Rama 5. The area of the original palace was about 51 acres. King Rama 2 expanded the area to todays size of about 60 acres. The Royal Palace contains a number of halls, residences, and other buildings constructed by King Rama 1. Later monarchs altered some and renovated others while still others were enlarged or torn down to make way for newer buildings. All the buildings are not listed here but the most important ones are. The buildings are listed in groups according to their location inside the palace walls. A trip to Bangkok would not be complete without visiting the Royal Grand Palace.
Entrance to Chakraphat Phiman Phra-Thinang Chakradhat Phiman
The Phra Maha Monthain Group
This group of buildings is located in the central part of the Grand Palace toward the eastern side. It was the first group of buildings constructed by King Rama 1 and his own residence. He also used it for his coronation and has been used for coronations of all monarchs of the Chakri This is the main building of the group and is a living apartment containing the Royal bed chamber and a large sitting room which now houses the Royal Regalia. It is the custom for the newly crowned King to spend a night in this palace to indicate that he has assumed the responsibilities for and power over the realm. the first few monarchs used this building as their living quarters but the Kings of later times built their own residences. They come here only to spend the night of their coronation in accordance with tradition.
Entrance to Phaisan-thaksin Audience HallPhra Thinang Phaisan-Thaksin
An important part of the coronation takes place here. On an octagonal throne the King receives the invitation from the representatives of the people to rule over the Kingdom. He also receives the Royal Regalia including the crown and the nine-tiered white umbrella from the chief of the Court Brahmin. In the middle of the hall is an alter where the symbolic guardian figure of Siam “Phra Siam Devadhiraj” was placed.
Entrance to Amarintha-Winitchai audience hall – Phra Thinang Amarintha-Winitchai Audience Hall
There are two things in this hall which were made during the reign of King Rama 1. The upper throne is in the shape of a boat which is now used as an altar and another in front of it which is surmounted by a nine-tiered umbrella. In the olden days this building was used as the formal audience hall where the King met with his officials to discuss state affairs. This audience hall is used for many ceremonies such as their majesties birthday rites and merit making ceremonies. The King also received the credentials of foreign envoys in this hall.
Dusidaphirom PavilionPhra Thinang Dusida Phirom
This Pavilion was built in the time of King Rama 1 and originally made of wood. Bricks and mortar were added during the reign of King Rama 3. This building was the robing chamber for the arriving or departing king by Palanquin or elephant.
Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat Group
This group was built by King Chulalongkorn (Rama 5) and in the beginning consisted of 11 buildings but only three remain today.
Chakri Maha Prasat
This building was constructed by King Rama 5 to commemorate the centenary of the Chakri Dynasty. It was designed by a British architect in the European style with a pure Thai Style roof. Construction took six years from 1876 to 1882.
Chakri Maha Prasat On the top floor of the central mansion are kept the royal ashes and the king gives public audiences from the front projection. The second floor serves as an audience hall and the ground floor is the office of the royal guards.
On the top floor of the eastern wing religious objects are kept. the middle floor serves as a reception hall for royal guests. the lower floor serves as a guest waiting room.
On the top floor of the western wing ashes are kept of the royal queens and high ranking princes and princesses. The middle floor is the guest chambers and the lower floor serves as a library.
Two galleries join the central portion to both the east and west wing. The eastern portion also has a reception room where portraits of the kings of the Chakri dynasty from Rama 1 to Rama 7 are displayed. In the west portion is a hall where portraits of the queens of Rama 4, Rama 5, and Rama 7 are displayed.
The Throne Room
In the rear center of the Chakri Maha Prasat is the Chakri Throne Room. Here the King receives ambassadors on the occasion of the presentation of their credentials. The emblem of the Chakri dynasty is depicted on the wall behind the throne.
Borophiman Mansion and Siwalai Garden Group
When King Rama 2 had the palace precincts expanded he ordered three golden halls and many European and Chinese style building to be constructed. Later King Rama 3 had these buildings pulled down to make room for temples to be constructed dedicated to his late father. King Mongkut (Rama 3) ordered a residence also be constructed and stayed there until the end of his life.
Siwalai Maha Prasat, Phra-Thinang Siwalai Maha Prasat
This building was built by King Chulalongkorn (Rama 5) to enshrine the statues of the four previous kings in the Chakri dynasty in 1869. Later King Rama 6 had the statues moved to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Since then Siwalai Maha Prasat has been left vacant.
Sitalaphirom Pavilion, Phra-Thinang Sitalaphirom
This small pavilion made of wood was built by King Rama 6 as a place for his private repose and as a seat during open air parties. At present the King sits there when he gives a garden party or on his birthday for high ranking government officials.
Phra Phuttha Rattanasathan
This building was built by King Rama 4 to install the Buddha image called Phra Buddha Butsavarat which was brought from Champasak in Laos. The building has been used by the king for some Buddhist rituals including ordination ceremonies.
Boromphiman Mansionm, Phra-Thinang Boromphiman
This European style building was built by King Rama 5 who planned to give it to the crown prince, H.R.H. prince Maha Vajirunahis who died before it was completed. Prior to his coronation King Rama 7 stayed here for sometime. King Ananda Mahidol (Rama 8) took residence here together with his younger brother and mother when they returned from Europe in 1945. King Rama 8 passed away in this mansion. It now serves as a guest house for visiting royalty and heads of state.
Phra-Thinang Sutthaisawan Phra-Thinang Sutthaisawan
Originally a wood structure without any roof decorations built by King Rama 1 to watch parades and the training of elephants. King Rama 3 had it replaced as it is today. It is used to receive public audience from the balcony.