The kingdom of Ayutthaya originated as a city-state of Ayutthaya that is located on an inland island at the congruence of three rivers -- Pasak, Lopburi, and Chao Phraya. The founding monarch was King U-Thong (King Ramathibodi I), who chose this location for its strategic advantages and established the city on Friday 4 March 1351, which served as the capital of the kingdom until to Burmese invading forces on Tuesday 7 April 1767.
From a humble beginning, the city of Ayutthaya quickly grew, and over the course of over 400 years, became one of the most important port-of-call on the trade routes between East and West. During the city's prime, traders from Europe nicknamed it the "Venice of the East", because the primary means to get about in the city was by boats along the complex system of canals.
Painting by Johannes Vingboons of Ayutthaya, c. 1665 This is an image from the Atlas of Mutual Heritage and the Nationaal Archief, the Dutch National Archives. This permission has been archived as ticket #2014051410008887
Today, only a few historical remains give a glimpse of the impressive city, which visitors in bygone days must have seen. These remains are characterised by the prang (Khmer-style stupas) and big Buddhist monasteries. Most of the remains are temples and palaces, as those were the only buildings made of stones and bricks at that time.
The great cultural value of Ayutthaya's ruins were officially recognised in 1991, when this historic city became an UNESCO World Heritage Site.