Thailand, officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia that lies between Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia and borders the Andaman Sea. According to the World Tourism Organization, Thailand ranks first. Among the most visited countries in Southeast Asia in 2013. Thailand’s architecture is a clear reflection of its long and rich history.
Cultural Blend – Architecture of Thailand
Thailand’s architecture is a brilliant reflection of its history and culture: political, religious, and sociological, adding to the existing beauty of majestic beaches, vibrant nightlife, a variety of cuisines, and fascinating culture. With the advent of different dynasties, the kingdom experienced a fusion of cultural diversity, heavily influenced by its neighboring states in Southeast Asia and the west, bringing to the country bright and vibrant ornaments that were part of the decoration of the ancient kingdom’s architectural splendor. Thai architecture, therefore, reflects the traditional designs of neighboring Asian countries and is gradually evolving into a more modern style invented by the government itself. It has been divided into conventional, contemporary, religious, and secular Thai architecture.
Below are a few of the famous sites in Thailand that are emblematic and brilliantly showcase the architecture of Thailand.
Prasat Hin Phimai
Built between the 11th and 12th centuries, Phimai Historical Park features some of Thailand’s most exquisite Khmer architecture and is the largest of all Khmer temples. These are Buddhist temples facing southeast Angkor in Cambodia.
Hindu rulers mainly built the temple walls and depicted the stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata and those of the Buddha’s life.
These are precisely the temple’s unique characteristics that create a link between religious identities: a Buddhist temple built by Hindu rulers.
Wat Rong Khun
Architecture and Symbols
Although known as a temple, it is more of a privately owned exhibit influenced by Buddhist architecture. While the white color represents the purity of Buddha, the glass symbolizes his teachings, the Dhamma. Visitors must cross a bridge surrounded by a group of desperate hands representing hell. Heaven, as humanity believes, is found only by traversing hell. The interior of the building is adorned with a variety of traditional and contemporary sculptures, showing the sheer brilliance of the artist.
The extravagance doesn’t end because the temple is still working.
Wat Samphran Temple
Although not a well-known tourist attraction, the Buddhist temple in Amphoe Sam Phran, 40km from Bangkok, is an awe-inspiring work of humanity, with a giant dragon spiraling through its seventeen floors. The dragon is hollow, allowing visitors to walk through it, although many sections are in ruins.
Wat Arun Ratchawararam
The temple represents Mount Meru, which according to Buddhist cosmology, is the center of the universe. The large pagoda, 70 meters high, is intricately decorated with colored glass and Chinese porcelain and is surrounded by four smaller pagodas, each decorated with shells. The temple houses the Emerald Buddha and is heavily influenced by Buddhist architecture.
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaeo consists of several buildings undergoing different phases of architectural experimentation in the Rattanakosin or Old Bangkok style. Indian architecture has influenced the structure by having similar “yakshis” guarding the temple gates and floral motifs. Frescoes depicting the life of the Buddha have been incorporated into subsequent designs over the years, while the original orange and green tiles, marble columns, and mosaics have been preserved.