Though it pains me to say this - prior to traveling to Thailand, I had never heard of Ayutthaya. How could such a historically significant and architecturally fascinating place have completely evaded me?!?
In case you're in the same boat as me, here is a bit of what I learned from my time in Ayutthaya -
As the center of the Siam Empire from 1350 to 1767, Ayutthaya was once one of the most powerful and dazzling cities in Asia. During this time, over 400 glittering temples were built - most of them shockingly large and stunningly intricate.
After fighting off waves of conquerors for centuries, Ayutthaya was finally brought to it's knees by an invading Burmese army in 1767. Though a great deal of the city was looted, many of the temple structures were left in tact (thankfully!).
Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in the early 1990's, the ruins are continuously undergoing restoration - ensuring that they remain for generations to come. Today, visitors can bike, walk or take an elephant ride through the majestic ruins. I chose to bike the ruins from dawn to dusk for two days in a row, and was able to see most of Ayutthaya's splendor (though, not all)...