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Ruins of a royal temple © travelstock44/AlamyJoin Our GIFs Group
In present-day Thailand sit the ruins of the ancient kingdom that preceded it, Ayutthaya. Wat Phra Si Sanphet, shown here, was the holiest shrine in the capital of that kingdom, a royal temple containing a 52-foot-tall golden statue of the Buddha, among other treasures. The first king of Ayutthaya, Ramathibodi I, ordered construction of a royal palace here in 1350. Nearly a century later, the palace was moved to a different location in the city and the former palace grounds were converted to a holy site.