The foreigner compound
Published/Last edited or updated: 8th September, 2016
One of the most fascinating facets of Lopburi’s history involves the Greek merchant, Constantine Phaulkon, who rose to become one of King Narai’s most trusted aids before meeting a bloody end. The ruins of a complex built for foreign dignitaries, Ban Wichayen, bares his official Siamese title.
Within seven years Phaulkon became an official representative of the Siamese court and granted the title, Ok-Ya Wichayen, making him the first and only Westerner to ever receive such a powerful position. When King Narai fell ill a year later, resentful Siamese ministers accused Phaulkon of attempting to seize the throne. In 1688, the Greek was beheaded.
Today Ban Wichayen is an unusual collection of brick-and-mortar ruins with broad stairways, baths and the walls of European Renaissance-style buildings -- with some imagination you can picture it as a lavish palace where European traders and ambassadors collected exotic goods. Otherwise the complex may look like the bombed-out remnants of Warsaw or Berlin after World War II.
At the centre stands what’s left of a Christian church built in a European style but with elongated lotus-shaped columns, making it the first church in history with a Thai/European design. You’ll also notice original stucco decorations above doorways along with lots of pigeons amid the grounds, which can be fully explored in around ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 100 words.)
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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