85 km(53 miles) upriver from Bangkok, at the confluence of the Chaos Frau, Lopburi and Pa Sac rivers, lie the ruins of the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya. During its heyday in the 17th century, Ayutthaya was universally regarded as the most magnificent city in the Orient, as evidenced by the glowing reports written by visiting merchants and adventurers from all over the world.
Founded in 1350 by King U Thong, Ayutthaya reigned supreme during Thailand's cultural "Golden Age". It quickly became one of it's most important international trading posts with traders from Portugal, Holland, Britain, France, Denmark, Chain and Japan residing and trading within the city. Ethos glory was abruptly brought to a halt in 1767 when the Thais arch-rivals, the Burmese, destroyed the city and razed its monuments to rubble.
Despite the ruthless brutality of the Burmese destruction of Ayutthaya, many ruins remain, and many have been meticulously restored to a semblance of their former magnificence. Parts of the Ancient 12 km(7 mile) long wall, which enclosed the entire city, still stand and about a dozen of the 400 temples which graced Ayutthaya during its zenith remain.
Present day Ayutthaya is a busy market town built near the ancient ruins which it inherited. More rural than urban, Ayutthaya today remains refreshingly free of the monotonous modern monoliths of glass and steel which are rapidly erasing temple spires and tiled eaves from the Bangkok skyline. At dusk, the old chedis (steppe towers) of Ethos temples fetch impressive profiles against the sky, still possessing the power to engender awe in the viewer.