Grand Royal Palace
Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon
There is no doubt at all that the Grand Royal Palace is Bangkok’s most famous sight and the center of the tourist pilgrimage. It is a huge complex of stunning buildings, which are situated on the bank of the river in capital’s historical center. Visiting it is comparable to being in the fairy-tale world of ancient Siam: multi-levelled tiled roofs, mosaic pagodas that glance against the sun, colorful stained-glass windows and sculptures of mythical animals, serve to create a truly magical atmosphere.
The palace’s history can be traced back to 1782, when the King Rama I decided to move the Kingdom’s capital to Bangkok and ordered the building of a residence that would induce awe with its majesty and luxury, there. The new palace’s structure resembled its predecessor – the old royal residence, situated in Siam’s former capital Ayutthaya – in many respects. Initially, the palatial complex consisted of wooden buildings, which were later replaced with structures made from stone. Each subsequent ruler of Thailand left his own new buildings, which served a variety of purposes, behind. As a result, the ensemble grew to imposing size and is now protected by a white-stone wall, which is almost two kilometers long.
The main entrance to the Grand Royal Palace is guarded by six-meter-high sculptures of demons, each of which are depicted with a beast’s head and human body. They also hold wide swords in their hands. In addition to the royal apartments, the complex includes administrative agencies, throne rooms, reception and audience halls, and rooms for private meetings. There are many galleries, whose walls are covered with an array frescos depicting scenes from the life of the King Rama I and illustrating the history of Thailand, on the palace’s premises. In addition to this, the complex of the Grand Royal Palace includes several amazingly beautiful and very important temples. The most famous of them all is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Since the mid-20th century, the King of Thailand has not lived in the Grand Palace; now the complex’s buildings are used for state banquets and annual royal ceremonies. As parts of it are still operational, certain areas of the palace are not open for tourists’ visits. However, guests can still see several mansions and temples, thrones and some other halls, stupas and museums.
Important! Visitors in shoes with open heels, shorts, short skirts or shirts with open shoulders are not allowed into the Grand Royal Palace. There is a clothes renting point for those whose appearance doesn’t meet the requirements at the entrance.
Getting there. Get to the metro station Saphan Taksin and then walk to the Sathorn pier. Take a cutter (departures are every 20 minutes) from there to the Tha Chang pier, which is situated near the Grand Royal Palace.