The Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is an absolutely beautiful building in the middle of Bangkok. It is situated between Vinmanmek Palace, the former royal residence, and Chitlada Palace, the current royal residence. The throne hall was commissioned in 1906 by King Chulalongkorn, also known as Rama V, and finished in 1915. King Chulalongkorn died in 1910 and never got to see the finished product. I think he would have been proud of what had been built for him. The building was completed using Carrera marble from Italy and furnished with Renaissance decor.
Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall was originally used as a reception hall for the Dusit Palace. Then in 1932 it was used as the People’s Party headquarters during the People’s Revolution, which lasted from June 24th through June 27th of that same year. It was a very short revolution. After the revolution the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall was host to the first National People’s Assembly on June 28, 1932, before becoming the Parliament House until 1974. Since then it has been used as a museum that is open to the public as well as numerous state functions including welcoming foreign dignitaries, holding state council meetings and other various royal occasions.
Since 1974, this museum has been home to replicas of ancient Thai artistry done by they students of Chitralada Vocational Centre as well as a few rare, legitimate antiques. There are beautiful tapestries, wooden carvings, paintings, golden thrones, a few palanquins, jewels, hair pins, hair brushes, bronze boxes, brooches and all sorts of items made from metal, teak and beetle wings. It really is amazing. Room after room is filled with these beautiful pieces and every ceiling is painted with delicate frescoes. Unfortunately, much of the authentic ancient artwork has been destroyed and most of what is in the Throne Hall are replicas. That was very surprising to learn since all the pieces are meticulously crafted. It is very clear how much the artists love their work.
Along with the beautiful craftwork adorning the walls and ceilings, several tv screens have been placed throughout the building. There are different videos playing on each one that describe the artwork for that section, the history of it and how it is done. It was quite a nice touch to be able to learn about the craft and see it being created in these videos.
With all of the beautiful artwork and fascinating handiwork in this building as well as the beautiful architecture of the building, I really wish we’d been able to take photographs. It was almost painful to not be able to take pictures while we were there. Unfortunately, there are no photographs allowed inside and all backpacks, purses and bags of any kind are secured in lockers outside the building. They do not allow cell phones or anything that looks electronic to enter the building. We had to show them Troy’s inhaler before entering because they could see he had something in his pocket.
If you visit the Throne Hall and do not want to leave empty-handed, they do have a gift shop behind the palace that sells photo books and postcards (among other things), so there is that option for those who just HAVE to bring photos back with them. I’m one of those people and chose to get a packet of ceiling frescoes.
Click on a picture to bring up full-screen images as well as be able to read the text from the back of the postcards.
One interesting thing to note is that in addition to historical replicas and beautifully painted ceilings, housed in the Throne Hall are various winning art pieces from current artists. Queen Sirikit has worked hard throughout her entire reign to help the Thai people reconnect with their creative history. To do this, she instituted the Chitralada Vocational Centre and handpicks students who show a knack for artistry to go there. The students learn the ancient Thai way of making art out of beetle wings, doing embroidery, painting, woodcarving and metallurgy. Every year there are nationwide contest for each of the different artistic mediums with the winning items being placed in the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. It truly is fascinating to see how the ancient methods of creating art are being kept alive by the royal family and how skilled the people are becoming at methods that were almost lost. I highly recommend visiting the Throne Hall and supporting the Thai artisan culture.
As for requirements to get into the Throne Hall, the dress code is quite strict. No shorts, tank tops or short skirts. Men must wear pants and a shirt with sleeves. Women must wear a long skirt and a shirt with sleeves. Short sleeves are okay, but sleeveless is not. Women wearing pants will be turned away, but you can purchase a sarong outside the entrance if you don’t have one with you.
The entrance fee is 150 baht, which is pretty standard for tourist stops in Bangkok. If you have ID that shows you are over 65 you will receive a 50% discount, which is nice.
Hours: 10:00-5:00 daily except for October 23rd (Chulalongkorn Day), December 5th (the King’s birthday) and August 12th (the Queen’s birthday).