For over 400 years, Ayutthaya was a major political, economic, and cultural powerhouse of Southeast Asia. Home to the eponymous kingdom, which traded with, among others, merchants from China, Vietnam, India, Spain, France, and Holland, Ayutthaya was perhaps the first, true Thai realm, holding sway over much of what is now modern-day Thailand. In 1767, the kingdom was sacked and burned by a rival Burmese army, and reduced to rubble.
Today, the little that remains of Ayutthaya’s former glory takes the form of crumbling temples, such as Wat Maha That, or partial reconstructions, such as Wat Phra Si Sanphet. Happily, restorations and renovations are underway, and most, if not all, of Ayutthaya is open to the general public.