BANGKOK — The palace that served as the center of power for King Taksin’s brief reign is open to the public for free through Dec. 28.
The facility, which Bangkokians call “the Old Palace,” contains a museum illustrating the history of the Thonburi Kingdom that lasted from 1767 to 1782, when the capital city was located on the western side of what is now Bangkok.
The palace opened to the public Saturday. It usually does so once yearly on Dec. 28 – the day King Taksin proclaimed his kingdom – but this year the navy extended the time to nearly two weeks.
Inside the palace, which now doubles as the headquarters of the Royal Navy, visitors will find artifact related to the Thonburi era, including centuries-old muskets and old maps of Bangkok.
Foreign visitors must be accompanied by a Thai national, according to an official stationed at the palace, citing navy regulations.
Another highlight is the white-stoned Wichai Prasit Fort, a French-designed fortress built during the Ayutthaya era to guard the entrance of Chao Phraya River.
The Kingdom of Thonburi came to an end in 1782, when a nobleman from Ratchaburi seized power, executed King Taksin and crowned himself as King Ramathibodi – or Rama I – of the Chakri dynasty. The capital city was moved to the eastern bank, and a new seat of government relocated to what is now the Grand Palace.
The Old Palace opens 9am through 3:30pm daily until Dec. 28. It’s next door to Wat Arun, accessible via ferry from Tha Tien pier.