Construction of Narai Ratchaniwet Palace was commenced during the rule of foreigner-friendly King Narai of Ayutthaya in 1665 and completed 12 years later.
The king used the palace as a summer retreat for up to six months of the year. Following his death, the palace was used for the coronation of his successor but then deserted until restoration works were undertaken by King Mongkut in 1863.
Although the buildings within the high-walled enclosure are ruins, the grounds are very well kept and pleasant to wander through, with remnants of elephant and horse stables, a large water reservoir and a series of halls which King Narai once used to store all his goodies all on display. At the southern end of the outer palace grounds lie the remains of what was probably an audience hall used by the monarch to greet important visitors.
Further into the enclosure you will reach the Chantara Phisan Pavilion. Originally built as the royal residence, it was transformed into another audience hall after the king moved his residence to the Suttha Sawan Pavilion in the southwest. This building is considered to be a fine example of classic Thai architecture, was restored by King Mongkut in 1863 and is now home to a collection of Thai artefacts.
To the south of the Chantara Phisan Pavilion is the Dusit Sawan Thanya Maha Prasat Hall. Built by the king for meeting VIPs, this is was where he probably greeted Chevalier de Chaumont, the representative of France's Louis XIV. Although the roof is long gone, it is believed to have been multi-tiered and topped by a tall spire. What's left now shows a meld of Thai and French architectural styles.
In the far southwestern corner is the Suttha Sawan Pavilion which was the later residence of the king. Before he died he dedicated both this pavilion and its immediate surrounding grounds to a monastery in order to protect it from plotters awaiting his death. The pavilion was surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains, with some of the landscaping still evident.
In 1856 during the reign of King Rama IV, the palace grounds were restored and the Phiman Mongkut Pavilion was built and used as his residence when he visited. The three-storey brick building is linked to three other buildings, all of which are now used as part of the Lopburi National Museum.
The museum is home to a range of Lopburi period sculpture and artefacts along with a smattering of historic goods connected to visits by the French.
Monday and Tuesday admission is free but you cannot enter any of the buildings.
Last updated on 3rd August, 2004.