Temple Run | Ayutthaya
Okay so Ayutthaya was somewhere I'd vaguely heard of but hadn't really considered visiting. It's usually done as a day trip from Bangkok, or en route to Chiang Mai. Ayutthaya was the second capital (after Sukhothani) of the ancient kingdom of Siam.
It was founded in 1350 and by 1700 it had become the largest city in the world, with over 1 million inhabitants. Unfortunately in 1767 the Burmese invaded and practically burnt the city to the ground. Although the city has been rebuilt, it isn't in exactly the same location, and the ruins today form an extensive archeological site.
The hostel I stayed at (which I'm going to dedicate a whole post to) was conveniently located in the old part of town and they provided me with a map that already had the most famous temples circled as well as places to eat. That was a ridiculously long sentence, I apologise.
As there are so many temples I found most of them to be fairly empty, even the busiest only had about 20 people there - it gives the city an apocalyptic feel. Now, because I like to torture myself I decided to walk around the city rather than renting a bike like a normal person. It's definitely doable and took me a couple of hours including stops. I did end up the colour of a tomato, however, and I don't think my back has ever been that sweaty. But that's nothing a shower can't fix!
In terms of structuring this post, I'm going to tell you about the two main things I saw, then chuck in a few random photos too. Enjoy!
You know the photo of the Buddha head amongst the tree roots? That photo is taken here. No one really knows when exactly this Temple was built; some reports say it was during the reign of King Borommaracha, others say it was during King Ramesuan's reign. Either way, during its heyday the temple was really quite impressive. There's a photograph of a white model further down showing how it used to look!
Wat Mahathat was very important due to it being a royal temple and the seat of the Supreme Patriarch of the City Dwelling sect. It was often the venue for royal celebrations and ceremonies but unfortunately after the Burmese attack it was left abandoned until the 1950s, when restoration work began.
What's this I see? Another reclining Buddha? This particular Buddha is 37m long and 8m high - not quite as big as Bangkok but still huge! There's little information out there about this particular Buddha, and everything I've read just states it was built in the 'Middle Ayutthaya Period', so make of that what you will. Unlike Wat Mahathat, there's no entry fee here - yippee! It is a little out of the way though, especially by foot, so I'd definitely recommend biking it or getting a tuk tuk.