The Former Palace (affectionately nicknamed Wang Doem) is situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River at the mouth of Bangkok Yai Canal, next to Wat Arun (The Temple of The Dawn). Sitting on the opposite bank from Bangkok’s Grand Palace, Wang Doem represents a crucial period in the history of the Kingdom of Siam.It was the ruling palace of the City of Thonburi, which was established by King Taksin the Great in 1768, after he recaptured Siam’s independence from Burma.
Since Ayutthaya (the previous Siamese capital) had been totally razed by the Burmese invaders, King Taksin established Thonburi as his capital city instead. Though the reign of King Taksin the Great lasted just 12 years (1770-1782), he set the Kingdom firmly back on the path to independence and national pride, having restored both the country itself and the spirit of the people. Thonburi remained the capital of Siam for 15 years, until it was decided to move across the river for reasons of strategic defense.
The location of the old city of Bangkok is nestled by the Chao Phraya on three sides, making it easier to defend.Even after the move, the Former Palace retained its crucial importance because of its ‘Wichai Prasit’ Fort. Also called ‘Wichai Yen’, this fort was built during the reign of King Narai the Great of Ayutthaya Kingdom. Wichai Prasit Fort was an essential line of defense to protect Bangkok from invaders.Besides its administrative and military glories, the Former Palace was the place where Kings Rama III and IV of the Chakri Dynasty were born. In 1910, King Rama V donated the palace to the Royal Thai Navy School. It still serves as the headquarters of the Royal Thai Navy.Buildings of the Former Palace: