MuangBoranMuseum (Ancient City), Thailand

The visionary park-museum launched in 1963 by Lek Viriyaphant in Bangkok, "from dawn to the Siam civilization".

Ancient city kaz yaj 2023

Published: 2016

Languages : English, Chinese, Thai, Korean

The 316 acres large museum-park re-creates an ancient city’ (เมืองโบราณ สมุทรปราการ, Muang Boran) that encompasses Ancient Siam ways of life — markets, elephants, traditional boat rides) –, Buddhist ceremonies, and glimpses to other religions and races’. An evocation of Subarnabhumi, The Land of Gold praised in Buddhist traditions, lies at the center of the park.

The Begining of an Era’, with Khmer sites

From the official website: In 1963, Mr. Lek Viriyaphant started the construction of the Ancient City — the architecture in this area is not only modeled exactly after the originals that is fading away, some ruins were actually brought here, and along with much research with all the evidences they could gather, the central area of the Ancient City was built. These monuments includes Sanphet Prasat Palace, Ayutthaya (27), Dusit Maha Prasat Palace (The Grand Palace) (23), The Footprint of the Lord Buddha, Saraburi (33), The Audience Hall of Thon Buri (16) — those were central in the economics and governance of Siam, along with the grand buildings of The Dvaravati House (18), Khun Phaen House (19), Rattanakosin Dwelling (24). As for stone buildings, there are Prasat phra Wihan (Preah Vihear), Si Sa Ket (72), The Phanom Rung Sanctuary, Buri Ram (87), The Phimai Sanctuary, Nakhon Ratchasima (86), Prasat Sikhoraphum, Surin (90), The Fruit-shape Tower (Prang Mafuang), Chai Nat (32), Prang Sam Yod, Lop Buri (35), Prasat Sadok Kok Thom, Sa Kaeo (93), the essense of the Northeastern Historal places. Other masterpieces were also built during this period [1963 – 1972] such as The Garden of the Gods (43), The Bench of Public Appeals, Sukhothai (48), Noen Prasat, Sukhothai (49), The Grand Hall of Wat Maha That Sukhothai (50), The Hall of Wat Nimit, Trat (95), Ho Kham, Lampang (53), Phra That Phanom, Nakhon Phanom (71), Phra That Bang Phuan, Nong Khai (66), Phra Chedi Si Song Rak, Loei (63), Phra That Narai Cheng Weng, Sakon Nakhonon (69), etc.”

Preah Vihear Replica at Ancient City (Photo courtesy of John Burgess)
Sdok Kok Thom replica at Muang Boran (photo 2009 courtesy of John Burgess)

The Khmer temples are not illustrated on the official website, only mentioned as quoted above. Researcher John Burgess shared these photos with Angkor Database, adding: In 2009, when I was researching my Sdok Kok Thom book, I was surprised to learn that the Ancient City had a replica of the temple. The real temple was in ruin when the replica was built. So Lek must have sent a team of architects and surveyors and photographers to the site who then decided the details of what the temple must have looked like when it was new. The replica is somewhat different from the now-completed reconstruction of the real temple, but nonetheless a pretty good effort.”

The Era of Growth, the great, forever-enduring inheritance’

Since 1972, when the founder passed away, the museum-park has boasted many new additions, mostly aimed at international tourists, to become a vast showcase of Thai traditions. Become a real Thai for a day’, a new program launched by the management, invite visitors, mostly female, to wear traditional attire and pose for many Instagram aficionados. 

Photos MuangBoran Museum

Tags: Thailand, Preah Vihear, Sdok Kok Thom, Lopburi, Surin, Khmer arts, Siam