The city of Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 by then King U Thong, who fled there to escape a smallpox outbreak. Once there, he proclaimed it the capital of his kingdom. As the capital of Siam, Ayutthaya flourished and by the mid-1700’s was one of the world’s largest cities with a population of over one million. Abundant rivers and waterways gave it the nickname “The Venice of the East". The old city is actually an island surrounded by the Chao Phraya, Lop Buri and Pa Sak rivers.
In 1767, the city was destroyed by the Burmese army, resulting in the collapse of the kingdom. The ruins of the old city are preserved in the Ayutthaya Historical Park, which is recognized internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is sponsored by the US Embassy in Bangkok.
The ruins, characterized by many prang (shrines) and wats (temples), give an idea of the city's past splendor.
Full of temples, museums, exotic sights and great food, Ayutthaya is a popular tourist destination for travelers from around the world.