The area in and around where the city of Lopburi is located has been a place for human settlements since the Bronze Age, at least 3,500 years ago. Many prehistoric archaeological sites are found within one hundred or so kilometres from the city.
This city first gained prominence as an Indianised city-state under the name of "Lavo" and was a part of the ethnic Mon's Dvaravati Kingdom that flourished from the 6th to the late 11th century CE. When the Khmer Empire expanded from the east (today's Cambodia) in the 12th century CE, Lavo continued to be an important city under that realm. However, during the 14th through 15th century CE, as the Khmer's dominance diminished and the Ayutthaya Kingdom became established across the Chao Phraya River basin, Lavo (by this time renamed "Lopburi") decreased in importance.
The second rise of Lopburi occurred when King Narai the Great (reigned 1656 through 1688 CE) established this city as his supplementary capital (after Ayutthaya). In fact, he spent more time of the year in Lopburi than he did at Ayutthaya. Some historians believe that this was the king's wise scheme to avoid the hectic politickings and trade negotiations (by civil servants and foreign merchants) that continued non-stop in cosmopolitan Ayutthaya. Lopburi was distant enough from all the commotions, yet close enough to Ayutthaya should his leadership as king was needed to be called upon.
After King Narai's reign, Lopburi slipped into insignificance again but was revived again during the reign of King Mongkut (King Rama IV). He constructed a new building complex, for both administrative and residential purposes, on the same ground of King Narai's palace (which today houses Somdet Phra Narai National Museum), and elevated Lopburi to be an eminent city once again as it has been until today.
IMPORTANT: Lopburi is famous for the hundreds of macaques monkeys that overrun the Old Town, especially in the area around Phra Prang Sam Yot and Phra Kaan Shrine. Keep an eye out for these monkeys that hang from trees and electrical cables or those that sit on roofs and ledges. They have some very bad habits, including defecating on unsuspecting pedestrians from their overhead perches, and jumping on people to snatch foods, sunglasses or other small items.