Situated just 86 kilometres from Bangkok is Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya is one of Thailand 's main historical attractions and is easily visited from Bangkok by bus, train or even boat. Ayutthaya is city island that is surrounded by the Chao Phraya River, Pa Sak River and Lopburi River . Ayutthaya contains three palaces and over 400 magnificent temples on an island threaded by canals that attracted a wealth of both European and Asian visitors in the past and still attracts them now as it has become an ideal day trip location from Bangkok .
Ayutthaya is home to a fascinating mix of Khmer (ancient Cambodian) and early Sukhothai architecture. Prangs are the name for the cactus-shaped obelisks that denote Khmer influence and resemble the famous towers of Angkor Wat whereas the more pointed stupas are from the Sukhothai influence. Visitors to Thailand may also notice that one of Bangkok 's most important temples Wat Arun also has similarities to the architecture in Ayutthaya ; this is because the 18th-century temple was built in the Ayutthaya style, best described as a combination of Hindu-inspired Khmer motifs and Sukhothai Buddhist influences.
The ancient capital of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 and had thirty three kings of different dynasties. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya reached its apex in terms of wealth, international commerce, sovereignty, military might and culture in the 16th century when Ayutthaya 's territory reached far beyond present-day Laos , Cambodia , and Myanmar . Ayutthaya served as Thailand 's capital from 1350 - 1767, as was recognised as one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in the world during its heyday.
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya was conquered and completely destroyed in 1767 after 15-month siege by Burmese invaders. When King Taksin the Great eventually liberated Ayutthaya , a new dynasty was formed and the capital city was moved to the more secure site of Thonburi which is now the old area of Bangkok .
Today, where once an empire thrived there are but groups of crumbling ruins and rows of headless Buddha images. Even in disrepair the temple compounds are still awe-inspiring and a visit here is both memorable and educational especially for people who are interested in Thailand 's past. Visitors to Ayutthaya can explore the ruins and learn a great deal about Thai history in this fascinating area, its numerous magnificent structures still reflecting the grandeur of the Kingdom it once was.
The Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park in Ayutthaya is not just a tourist attraction but also an extensive historical site and has been included in UNESCO's World Heritage list since 13 December 1991.