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Most Treasured Cultural World Heritage Sites of Thailand
UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites in Thailand
One of the exotic countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand boasts of a culture that is both indigenous to the Thais as well as influenced by the people of India, China, and Southeast Asian countries.
Thai culture is heavily influenced by world religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.
It is no wonder that one can find highly treasured cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Thailand.
These cultural world heritage sites are results of the rich Thai history.
The modern-day Thais trace their ancestral roots to southern China from where they moved to current-day Thailand in about 10th century A.D.
The early Thais established the ancient kingdoms in Sukhothai, Chiang Saen, Chiang Mai, Lanna, and Ayutthaya.
Despite the skirmishes among these kingdoms and notwithstanding the looming threats from neighboring Southeast Asian countries and Europe, Thailand has managed to remain a united country and to avoid foreign colonial rules.
Indeed, its rich history has influenced the cultural wealth of Thailand, which in turn spawned the most treasured cultural world heritage sites in the country.
1. Ancient Town of Sukhothai and its Related Old Towns
The first Thai capital, Sukhothai was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 because it serves as a glorious testament to the beginnings of Thai architecture and culture.
As the capital of Thailand from the 13th to the 14th centuries, Sukhothai was a melting pot of local and foreign traditions.
The early Thais used these traditions to forge the unique Sukhothai style of architecture.
In the old Sukhothai, one can see the ancient monastery of Mahathat together with its temple and cemetery; the Sra Si Wat and its two stupas; and a prang or a reliquary tower.
Nearby is the ancient town of Sukhothai Si Stacham, which is famous for its old ceramics and buildings, the most famous of which is Chedi Chet Thao or the temple with seven points or stupas that point to the skies.
Also nearby is the ancient town of Kamohena Pet or the wall of diamonds that played a significant role in shielding Sukhothai until the kingdom’s downfall.
2. Ancient City of Ayutthaya
Spread across 2,500 square kilometers of land, the ancient city of Ayutthaya or the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya was honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its impressive ancient ruins and art works.
It was Thailand’s capital for about 400 years and is the second Thai capital after the fall of Sukhothai.
As an old capital, Ayutthaya today offers its visitors magnificent architectural ruins that can take one back in time.
It has remarkable reliquary towers or prang and huge monasteries that give visitors a view of the past glory of the second capital before it was sacked by the Burmese in the 18th century.
Ayutthaya became Thailand’s capital in 1350 when then King U-Thong and his people rushed south of the country in hopes to fend off the threats from their northern neighbors.
Since then, Ayutthaya was ruled by at least 33 kings from various dynasties, with each contributing to the architectural wonders for which Ayutthaya has become known.
These wonders can be found in numerous places across Ayutthaya’s 16 districts or Amphoe.
These districts are Bang Ban, Bang Pa-In, Bang Pahan, Ban Phraek Bang Sai, Bang Sai, Lat Bua Luang, Maha Rat Nakhon Luang, Phachi, Phak Hai, Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya, Sena, Tha Ruea, Uthai, and Wang Noi.
Some of the ancient ruins found in Ayutthaya are the Phra Chedi Suriyothai, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Lokayasutha, Wat Mahathat, Wat Phanan Choeng, Wat Phra Ram, Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, Wiharn Phra Mongkhon Bopit, Wat Phu Khao Thong, Royal Elephant Kraal, and the ancient Japanese settlement.
Ayutthaya was declared a cultural world heritage site by the UNESCO in December 1991 because it bears outstanding architectural testimonies of the traditions and civilizations of ancient Thailand.
3. Historical Ban Chiang Archaeological Site
Located in Udon Thani, Thailand, the 64-hectare Ban Chiang archeological site is arguably the most important pre-historic settlement ever discovered in Southeast Asia according to UNESCO, the creators of the World Heritage List.
The Ban Chiang site yields priceless pieces of evidence of the earliest Asian agriculture and metallurgy, thereby marking a significant phase in Asian social and technological progress.
This progress is said to have happened independently of the agricultural and metallurgical evolution in China, India and the rest of Southeast Asia.
The pieces of evidence from Ban Chiang, which are dated as early as the 5th millennium B.C., make Ban Chiang a genuine cultural world heritage site.
Copyright © 2011 Kerlyn Bautista
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