Ayutthaya’s Baan Hollanda and History of Dutch-Siamese Trade
The beautiful ruins of the Ayutthaya temples speak to the imagination of travelers from abroad and Thai people alike during a visit to the former capital of ancient Siam. First impressions of Ayutthaya are motivated by the iconic image of the famous Buddha head intertwined with the roots of a tree at Wat Mahathat.
Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya became the second capital of Siam after the Sukhothai Period. After nearly five centuries and many wars with the Burmese, Ayutthaya was completely destroyed in the mid-18th century.
Walking through the brick ruin of a former architectural marvel will reveal the splendor of life during that era. The Ayutthaya Historical Park was established in 1976 and named a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site in 1991. The historic sites are concentrated within an area that is easily accessed by bicycle or short tuk-tuk ride.
For an added depth of interest for your traveler’s visit to Ayutthaya, we recommend a visit to Baan Hollanda, a replica of the 17th century Dutch trading office that handled the trade between the Dutch East Indies Company or VOC (Oostindische Vereenigde Companie) and the King of Siam. Between 2004 and 2008, the Department of Fine Arts of Chulalongkorn University excavated the foundation of the original Baan Hollande in order to rebuild the new construction that we can see today. A gift from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to King Bhumiphol to celebrate 400 years of Thai-Dutch relations, Baan Hollanda now functions as an information center that displays an interactive exhibition on the history of Ayuttaya, the VOC, and trading relations between Siam and European traders.
Khiri Travel recommends visiting Baan Hollanda before going to explore the Ayutthaya ruins in order to learn the historical context of this important riverside center of trade. Walking the ancient temple complexes, visitors will be better able to imagine the Dutch and other foreign traders impressions as they approached the magnificent architecture that enthroned the Siamese Royal Court.
The initial goal of the Dutch traders was to get permission to accompany Siamese junks to China. However, this wish was never granted but the Dutch did stay longer than most European traders. The early Dutch traders also take credit for helping to revive Theravada Buddhism in present day Sri Lanka. The Dutch offered space on their ships to Siamese monks traveling back to the former Ceylon, to practice Theravada Buddhism in the land of its origin.
For accommodations in Ayutthaya, Khiri Travel recommends the Iudia On the River for a relaxing stay with views of the river. Set in a nice garden and overlooking the temples, Iudia On the River is the perfect place to enjoy the old capital. For your more budget conscious traveler, Classic Kameo is a good option. Located in town, this hotel is recommended for both individual and group travelers.
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