Photo : www.bot.or.th/Thai/MuseumAndLearningCenter/BOTMuseum/Palace/Pages/default.aspx
When cruising up the Chao Phraya River, passing under the Rama VIII Bridge in Bangkok, on your right you will see a splendid yellowish construction showing an awesome architecture facing the river. Also, when you cross the Rama VIII Bridge, heading for Phra Nakhon District on the east bank of the river, you will see the building as well. It is Bang Khunphrom Palace, widely known as one of the most beautiful palaces of the country.
To celebrate the 101st anniversary of the completion of this palace and for the sake of art, Thaiways presents to you a concise story about the palace.
Bang Khunphrom Palace, which is now the Bank of Thailand Museum, was once the residence of H.R.H. Prince Baripatra Sukhumbhand, the 33rd son of King Rama V. The construction of the main building (or tamnak yai) was finished in 1906.
Later, another building called tamnak somdet was built to be the residence of his mother, H.M. Queen Sukhumala Marasri. Different ages of building resulted in different art styles of the whole palace. But they magically created the stunning impression for the beholders.
The tamnak yai 's art styles are Renaissance, baroque and rococo while the tamnak somdet is of art nouveau. The tamnak yai has a porch at the right wing. The walls are curved, so every other composition is curved too. Mr. Mario Tamagno was the architect in chief of tamnak yai while Prof. Dr. Karl Siegfried Dohring was responsible for the setting up of the tamnak somdet.
Bang Khunphrom Palace's main building was decorated with various but harmonious window styles, making it the palace having the most beautiful windows among the contemporary constructions.
Life at the palace in former times
At the time of Prince Baripatra, who was a scholar himself and who possessed knowledge in many fields, Bang Khunphrom Palace was the meeting centre of royalties who came to discuss political and intellectual matters. Hence, the palace was also known in the name "Bang Khunphrom University".
Because of the beauty of the palace and the sublime tastes of specialties cooked here, it also served as a banquet venue to receive royal or state guests.
At that time, the palace was famous for traditional Thai music and food. It was told that music never stopped at Bang Khunphrom Palace. And the best-known recipe was khanom-chin (rice vermicelli eaten with various kinds of curry and vegetables).
Prince Baripatra was good in several fields, particularly military, administration, art and music. Apart from being a great admiral, he was also a talented composer. He composed 73 traditional Thai and modern songs. Of these, Khaek Mon Bang Khunphrom and March Baripatra stand out. As a pioneer orchid enthusiast of Thailand, the Prince wrote the country's first book on orchids.
The turning point of the palace
Following the political transformation in 1932, Prince Baripatra and the family moved to Bandung, Indonesia, where he lived until the last days of his life.
Bang Khunphrom palace was turned into offices for several organizations. In 1945 it became the office of the central bank, and in 1992, the Bank of Thailand Museum. The museum exhibitions feature the prince's life, the history of the central bank and Thai and foreign currencies.
Bank of Thailand Museum
The museum is aimed to preserve the various forms of Thai currency since the earliest times and stimulate the research and study on the history and evolution of Thai currency. The exhibitions consist of 14 rooms such as:
Ancient Coins Room : On display are shells or beads used as money in ancient times. Visitors will learn about the introduction of coins used in the ancient kingdoms prior to the establishment of the Kingdom of Thailand such as Funan coins, Dvaravati coins and Sri Vijaya coins.
Pot Duang Room : The room exhibits Pot Duang coins which have different seals and circulated from the Sukhothai Period (1238-1438) up to the reign of King Rama V (1868-1910) of the Rattanakosin Period. Their production methods are also described.
Thai Coins Room : Thai flat coins which were initiated by King Rama III (1824-1851) are exhibited here. These coins serve as models for coins of the following periods up to the present.
Thai Banknotes Room displays the evolution of the Thai paper money from the earliest issuance of the paper money known as "mai" in King Rama IV's reign (1851-1868) through the issuance of banknotes series circulated nowadays. Commemorative banknotes issued on special occasions are collected here as well.
Gold and Commemorative Coins Room displays commemorative gold coins, silver coins, nickel coins, gold bond, as well as gold bullions which are used as currency reserves.
Bank of Thailand 60th Anniversary Room exhibits the history, the responsibilities of the Bank of Thailand and important events of the Bank in chronological order.
Baripatra Memorial Room showcases the life, works, activities and the talents of H.R.H. Prince Baripatra Sukhumbhand.
To admire the beauty of the palace, visitors are welcomed in groups only. The admission is free. Photography is not permitted inside the museum. Please contact the museum one week in advance of the intended visit.
For the correct pronunciation of romanized Thai words, see Romanization System of the Thai Language.