Bangkok, Thailand




Dusit is a European-style district of Bangkok that is the centre of Thai politics and government. Its development dates back to the early 1900s, when King Rama V built Dusit Palace, a complex of palaces and royal residences created to escape the heat and chaos of the Grand Palace. To this day, it is the seat of power with its numerous political institutions, international organisations and royal palaces.

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King Rama V was the first Thai monarch to visit Europe and was impressed with what he saw. Therefore, he came up with some drastic ideas to make Bangkok ready for the 20th century. Rattanakosin was then a cramped district with many waterways, as opposed to Europe where broad avenues dominated cities like Paris and London. King Rama V decided that most of the original canals in Rattanakosin had to disappear in favour of roads for horse carriages. King Rama V also started designing a completely new district from scratch, which was to become the "new royal city" with its wide avenues and European feel. The result was the district of Dusit.

Dusit Palace by Deror Avi

The best example of the modernization process is the Dusit Palace, a massive complex of royal residences and palaces in many different styles, some of them with a European feel. The Italian Renaissance-style Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is the heart of Dusit Palace. In front of the Throne Hall and in the middle of a wide avenue stands the King Rama V Equastrian Statue, a large statue of the King himself that is beautifully adorned with garlands on Chulalongkorn Day (October 23). King Rama V is still popular among the Thai people and his modernization strategy is credited with having saved Siam from Western colonization.

Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall by ScorpianPK

Nearly all of Thailand's decision-making institutions are located within the boundaries of Dusit. Near the Dusit Palace is the National Assembly, a modern building that is the parliament of the country. South of it lies the Venetian Gothic-style Government House, which is mostly used for state ceremonies and can only be visited once a year on Children's Day (January 9). The Chitralada Palace (official residence of King Bhumibol), lies just east of Dusit Palace. A good day to catch the stately feel of the district is on December 2, when Dusit hosts the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony. Hundreds of officers of the Royal Guard demonstrate their allegiance to the King by parading around Suan Amporn, right next to King Rama V's statue.
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