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In 1782, after the passing away of King Taksin of Thon Buri, today part of Bangkok located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, Chao Phraya Maha Kasatsuek ascended the throne and was known as King Buddha Yodfa or Rama I. The King moved the capital to the opposite side of the river known as Bangkok, and established the Chakri Dynasty.

bangkok history

A bridge in the area of Rattanakosin Island in 1901.

The main reason for the removal was that Bangkok had a better location for protection from foreign invasions as it was separated by the river from the west bank and also covered a bigger area. Then canals were dug around the city starting from the expansion of Banglamphu and Ong Ang canals to the east. When finished, the two canals were joined together and linked the Chao Phraya River at both ends so the city was surrounded by water and the whole canal was named "Khlong Rop Krung" meaning the canal round the city. These canals together with other smaller ones were the source of Bangkok's nickname "Venice of the East".

King Rama I then commanded the construction of the Grand Palace close to the river modeling on the ancient palace of Ayutthaya with a royal temple, the Emerald Buddha Temple, within the city walls. In addition, other important government offices were newly built on the east bank. The King gave a very long name to the capital, i.e. Krung Thep Mahanakhon Bowon Rattanakosin Mahinthrayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udom Ratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathatiya Witsanukam Prasit. (Later, King Rama IV (1851-1868) changed the word "Bowon" in the full name into "Amon".) This long name is still a world record, though in normal usage it is shortened to "Krung Thep".

In the early Rattanakosin period (1782-1851), Bangkok remained a quiet place. It was covered with lush vegetation and had waterways as its chief routes of transportation. The capital underwent some development based on Western models in the reign of King Rama IV who ordered road building, canal digging, ship building, and a reorganization of the Thai army and administration. The great reform occurred in the reign of King Rama V (1868-1910) who brought the nation into modernization in various aspects, including administration, education, justice, communications and public health. For the convenience of administration, the country was divided into several monthon, and Bangkok was one of them.

In 1932, a revolution was staged and the political system was changed into constitutional monarchy. Bangkok on the east bank known as Krung Thep or Phra Nakhon became a province and Thon Buri on the west bank became another province. In 1971, the two provinces were merged under the name of Nakhon Luang Krung Thon Buri or Bangkok-Thon Buri Metropolis. One year later, the form of local government in the metropolis was reorganized and the province obtained a new name as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or popularly called Krung Thep for short. The name is still used among the Thais today as always, while the foreigners know Krung Thep as Bangkok. It is noteworthy that the name "Bangkok" formerly referred to a small fishing village which later expanded into communities on both sides of the Chao Phraya River. It is so named because the village (called bang in Thai) was full of wild olive (called makok in Thai which was shortened to kok) groves, and the name has been internationally used up to now.

Bangkok is now a bustling city with a population of some 8 millions as it is the centre of administration, transportation, business, communications, education, entertainment and all.