Get off the beaten track and venture out into areas away from the tourist trail to see some of the hidden gems of Thai history and architecture. Wat Ratchabophit on Fuang Nakhon Road a beautiful Buddhist temple built in 1869 during the time of King Rama V is one of these. The temple has been deemed unusual as its layout and many of its features are different to those of other historic Buddhist temples in the city. The temple’s unusual features include a circular courtyard in the middle of which is a 43 meter high bell shaped tile covered stupa where relics of the Buddha are enshrined and a prayer hall with an elaborate neo gothic interior said to have been influenced by Italian architecture and decorations which had fascinated the king during a visit to Italy. Among the temple’s other features is the beautiful three meter high intricately decorated entrance doorway that gives the temple a lofty air, an exterior decorated with hand painted glazed ceramic antique tiles and door and window frames gilded with mirror details. Quite at odds with the traditional architecture of the building is a pair of toy like blue painted door guards modeled on 19th century European soldiers at the entrance to the temple.
Crowded on the western side of the temple grounds among flower bushes, trees and paved pathways are the tombs, monuments and memorials dedicated to members of the minor and major members of the Thai royal family from those who were closely related to king Rama V to parents and relatives of the current Thai royal family. Four prominent white buildings hold the ashes of King Rama V four principal wives and their descendants. The ashes of the current king’s father, his mother and his older sister are interred in the Rangsi Vadhana Memorial another of the striking memorials here. The design of the many tombs in the cemetery veer from Khmer chedis to neo baroque towers to a gothic steeple to stupas and other Thai style structures and provide an interesting snapshot of the architectural influences of the times.
See Bangkok and its environs from a different perspective. Indulge in a Bangkok cruise tour with Anantara cruises Thailand. Experience the thrill of sailing down the Chao Phraya River on a 100 year old converted rice barge, lounging on the spacious upper deck as the boat glides past temples, paddy fields, open air markets and enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings. Sample the comfort of luxurious air conditioned interiors, well prepared meals and excellent service on board as the cruise boats wend their way to Ayutthaya or Ang Thong. Take advantage of one of well planned Bangkok cruises to enjoy a historic waterway and an extraordinary city steeped in history.