Imagine a small, walled city which combines the functions of Buckingham Palace, Washington, DC, and the Vatican.
Now superimpose on this picture the incredibly ornate, colorful, and whimsical art and architecture of Thai Buddhism. This is the Grand Palace of Bangkok.
From 1782 until 1946 The Grand Palace was the home of the Royal Family, the seat of government, and the most important Buddhist Temple in Thailand. Today it’s still an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists, as well as sun-burned tourists from all over the world. I can’t speak for the religious pilgrims, but I imagine that no tourist comes away disappointed.
The grounds are a fabulous collection of highly decorated holy buildings, monuments, throne rooms, reception halls, stupas, and residences. The entire place glitters with complex combinations of colorful mirrored structures, and just when you think you’ve seen the most ornate, around the corner is another surprise.
Mythical beasts line staircases …
… support stupas …
… and guard building entrances.
It’s a photographer’s dream come true, and you may not have seen the last of the Palace.
Looking for more fun posts on Bangkok? Check these out!
Chasing Pink Elephants in Bangkok
My Love Affair With Jim Thompson
Superb, beautiful photos of one of my favorite places in the world. Looking at them my fingers are itching to find a ticket and go back to the Grand Palace. Lucky, lucky you for being there.
Thanks for the comment Pamela, and for dropping by the blog. The Grand Palace is one of the most colorful and architecturally interesting places I have visited. Given this, and how sacred it is to Buddhists, it’s no wonder there are so many visitors. ~James
Lovely pictures! Temples in Thailand are indeed a photographer’s paradise! ^^
Thanks KaZ. When I visit places like the Grand Palace, I’m very happy to have a digital camera. ~James
Totally encrusted in gold. Nice pictures!
Thanks George. The amount of gold here was amazing. There was a small (3ft) statue of Buddha, that worshipers were pressing small pieces of gold leaf on. It looked sort of creepy, but was amazing to see. ~James
I love the sculptural details, SO ornate! Reminds me that I’ll have to revisit some of those spectacular sights next time I stopover in BKK!
Thanks Amit. You’ve hit upon my favorite thing about the palce. The sculptures and buildings were beautiful from any distance, and the closer I looked, the more ornate and amazing they became. And even though its crowded and a bit wacky, it’s definitely worth a revisit. ~James
Wow, this is amazing. I love all the decorations and details, especially those beastly staircases.
Thanks Jessica. I also love these whimsical staircases. I’ve seen these in Buddhist temples in Laos as well. But the ones at the GP are the most intricate. ~James
what gorgeous pictures James!
Thanks Soumya. This is one of those places where it’s difficult to take a bad photo. The colors, textures, and subjects make it a photographer’s dreamworld. ~James
That first image is absolutely stunning. Such beautiful decorations and ornate detail.
Thanks Vicki. Compliments on my photos from a photographer of your calibre is high praise indeed. ~James
EXCELLENT PHOTOS! They weren’t short on gold here. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to seeing more.
BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!
Thanks Francine. Buddhists do seem to have lots and lots of gold in their temples. I’m sure there’s some symbolic significance, but it sure is eye-candy for me. ~James
You keep whetting my appetite for Thailand. It has definitely moved up from “should see” to “must see.” Thank you for sharing the great photos and writings. – Mike
Mike, if you’re making a swing through SE Asia, Thailand is a must see for sure. In fact, it’s hard to travel through this area without a connection in Bangkok. And my motto when this happens is: Why not get off the plane for a visit? ~James
I can imagine that you might get temple overload while traveling in Thailand, but this looks like a must-see.
Buddhist temples are common in Thailand, and as you suggest, a steady diet will lead to overload. But, they all aren’t created equal, and if you see just one, the Grand Palace is the one to see. There’s nothing like it in all of Thailand. ~James
Wow…the snake claws with the little Buddhas. I want one? Great photos, James. –Curt
Thanks Curt. These critters are called “nagas”, and they provide protection for Buddha. They come in all shapes and sizes at Buddhist temples, and I agree, they are very cool. But, I must admit that I love all these Buddhist beasties. ~James
Thanks Ruth. Fabulous is the exact word to describe this palace. ~James
I loved this palace! Pure opulence…
Thanks for the comment Virginia, and for dropping by the blog. This palace is one of my favorites was well. The only other palace that I’ve seen that’s in this league is the Forbidden City in Beijing. ~James
Mmmm I also liked the Forbidden City but I’m a little like a magpie, so the colours and gold of this palace in Bangkok made it more interesting for me.
That is a grand palace! Incredible detail works. Thank you for introducing the beautiful Thailand, James!
Many thanks Amy. It’s definitely one of the most spectacular royal compounds I’ve ever seen! ~James
Wow this is absolutely spectacular and your photos are fabulous! Thailand is one my must see lists and I hope to make it there someday.
Thanks so much Nicole. I know you’ve already seen so many spectacular places, so I’m sure you will love Thailand. It’s a great destination for your must-see list. All the best, James
Fantastical! Beam me up Scottie. 🙂
Thanks Jo. The palace really is an amazing place. With the crowds and the Bangkok heat and humidity, it takes stamina. But, it’s certainly worth the effort. ~James
I can always find some stamina in a good cause, James. 🙂
James, even though we’ve seemingly been in transit whenever we’ve visited Bangkok, I’m surprised we haven’t yet visited the Grand Palace. You’ve captured its colorful tiles, ceramic and gold details quite well here. It seems a return to Bangkok is in order! 🙂
The Grand Palace is truly a unique place, and even though it’s crowded (for good reason), it definitely worth a visit. It’s a photographer’s dream, and one of those places where I’m grateful for digital cameras. ~James
Regrettably, I never made it to the Grand Palace when I was in Bangkok and looking at these pictures I definitely need to rectify that! Now, when can I make it back to Thailand??
Bummer about missing the GP Jade. For obvious reasons it’s very popular and crowded, but definitely worth a visit. I’m sure that a traveler like you will get back eventually. There’s always a good excuse to go to SE Asia. ~James
I know- bad traveller! We had to go through very quick as it was whilst the riots were happening and I had some very worried parents on Skype! But I will definitely be back’
I do miss Bangkok. I like the lively city.
Vinneve, we haven’t been to Bangkok in a while which is too bad. It’s lively for sure, and the pace and contrasts of life there are astounding. Hopefully, when Covid runs it’s course we (and you) will be able to return. ~James