PRESS FOCUS - HISTORICAL PARK
Historical sites restored

30 April 2013 - AYUTTHAYA: Thailand’s Fine Arts Department reports most of the flood-damaged historical parks in Ayutthaya have been
restored about 18 months after floods devastated  the central plains province. The department on Monday said renovations at Thailand’s old capital
of Ayutthaya, was now 80% complete. On Sunday, the department general director, Sahawat Naenna, led a high-level UNESCO delegation to visit
the
Ayutthaya’s historical park, centuries-old temples and the anti-flood embankments on the banks of the Chao Phya River, built to keep the annual
floods at bay. The Fine Arts Department and UNESCO are working on flood prevention measures for the province, but prevention is limited to
specific areas. The province lies in a massive flood plain stretching a good 200 km north to south and 80 km east to west. Measures are in place to
protect historical sites and factories in key locations and divert water to other areas. However,  the country’s comprehensive water management plan,
announced during the 2011 floods, is still in the planning stage. During the flood disaster in late 2011, 157 historic monuments in the province were
damaged and hundreds of factories closed. Some of them have still not reopened, but that is more to do with insurance claims or other financial
considerations. According to a two-year full-scale flood risk mitigation plan supported by UNESCO and the Asian Development Bank, experts will
undertake hydraulic modeling using computer simulations to gauge flood risks at the site. Based on the results, project partners will develop a flood
risk mitigation plan together with local stakeholders. International experts in risk preparedness for cultural heritage conservation will be mobilised by
UNESCO Bangkok to guide the plan’s development in line with international conservation standards. Ayutthaya then will be the first World Heritage
site in Southeast Asia with a management plan for flood risk mitigation, setting an example for other World Heritage sites around the region. The
project will be undertaken by the UNESCO Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE) based in the Netherlands, in close collaboration with
UNESCO Bangkok. [Source: TTRWeekly - Writer: Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit]

UNESCO guides flood plan

28 March 2013 - AYUTTHAYA: World Heritage sites in Ayutthaya province will be the first in the country to have a full-scale flood risk mitigation
plan supported by UNESCO and ADB. Ayutthaya was the worst hit province during the 2011 flood and hundreds of historical sites were damaged
with some still undergoing restoration. UNESCO Bangkok director, Gwang-Jo Kim, said: “Disaster risk mitigation is one of the top priorities for
World Heritage protection identified by the World Heritage Committee.” The UNESCO project was developed following the severe flood of 2011
that heavily affected the Ayutthaya’s core world heritage site. It is being funded by the Asian Development Bank under its water resources financing
programme. Since October 2011, Thai authorities have supervised repair work at the World Heritage site and have invested in water management
systems for the Chao Phraya River Basin. However, up to now, there has been no long-term effort to protect Ayutthaya’s heritage assets from future
flooding. “The two-year project will assess the flood risks at Ayutthaya’s World Heritage site and then develop a flood risk mitigation plan.”
According to the project, experts will undertake hydraulic modeling using computer simulations to gauge flood risks at the site. Based on the results,
project partners will develop a flood risk mitigation plan together with local stakeholders. International experts in risk preparedness for cultural
heritage conservation will be mobilised by UNESCO Bangkok to guide the plan’s development in line with international conservation standards.
“Ayutthaya will be the first World Heritage site in Southeast Asia with a management plan for flood risk mitigation, setting an example for other World
Heritage sites around the region.” The project will be undertaken by the UNESCO Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE) based in the
Netherlands, in close collaboration with UNESCO Bangkok. In addition, project partners include the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute (HAII),
the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Thai government Fine Arts Department. An international experts’ seminar in October will start the
consultation sessions to develop the plan. The project  will also support the province’s bid to host the global mega event World Expo 2020.
Historically, the waterways surrounding the city have played an integral role in providing transport as well as preventing floods. If the province wins
the bid it will make full use of river and canal transport for visitors travelling to the expo park. The government has set in motion a flood management
plan that will tackle the long-term problems and issues that cause flooding annually. The province governor, Wittaya Phewpong, said earlier: “The
systems will focus on integrated water resource management based on a master plan of the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management
for the Chao Phraya River basin.”He added: “Flood protection in the Chao Phraya Basin will focus on reducing the volume of water in the river by
diverting it to the Chin River in the west, and the Bang Pakong River in the east.” The province has decided that the proposed World Expo site will
be close to the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre about 20 km south of Ayutthaya town. [Source: ttrweekly - Writer: Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit]

UNESCO focuses on Ayutthaya's World Heritage sites

28 Mar 2013 - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has launched a project to develop a flood risk
mitigation plan for Ayutthaya's World Heritage sites. According to UNESCO director Kim Gwang-Jo, more than 150 historic monuments in
Ayutthaya were affected by the 2011 floods. Recovery efforts by the authorities are still continuing. "However, up to now there have not been any
initiatives aimed specifically at addressing the flood risks threatening the historic city of Ayutthaya as a cultural heritage site of local, national and global
significance," he said. Disaster risk mitigation has been singled out as one of the top priorities for World Heritage sites in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Through this project, Ayutthaya will be the first World Heritage site in Southeast Asia with a management plan for flood risk mitigation, setting an
example for other World Heritage sites around the region and beyond," Kim said.
Led by the UNESCO Institute for Water Education in the Netherlands, the project received US$200,000 (6 million baht) from the Asian
Development Bank to undertake two-year research. The initial findings will be launched by October this year and the final solution will be purposed
to government agencies by September 2014. UNESCO expects that the effort will set a standard for other World Heritage sites to have a natural risk
mitigation plan. "After the floods, the immediate concern was restoration of the heritage sites. If you take a longer-term perspective, you need to
prepare for the future. Being proactive is better because it means we are well prepared," Kim said.
"We selected Ayutthaya because the heritage sites there were affected the most," said UNESCO Institute for Water Education associate professor
Zoran Vojinovic. The study will cover not only the old city of Ayutthaya but also its vicinities in order to find practical solutions, he said, adding that
the institute will capitalise on its expertise in water management and will also invite specialists from the International Scientific Committee on Risk
Preparedness of the International Council on Monuments and Sites. "We will also work closely with local agencies such as the Asian Institute of
Technology and the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute which also give us strong support. We hope that the outcome will complement the
government's work." According to the Fine Arts Department director-general Sahawat Naenna, the department supports UNESCO's flood risk
management study. "As you know, several heritage sites in Ayutthaya were affected by massive flooding in 2011," he said, adding that the floods
damaged 127 sites out of 303 historical sites throughout the nation. About 70% have been fully restored. "We still have 60 sites to go. The restoration
process is taking longer than we anticipated because when we restore one point, we find other spots which need to be repaired too," he said, adding
that the department was delighted that this international collaboration will ensure an appropriate and efficient approach to preserving the nation's
cultural treasures. "When we get the findings, we will make a proposal to the government to allocate a budget. I believe the final plan will comprise
short, middle and long term plans, as well as a couple of risk management models that we can follow," Sahawat said. According to UNESCO's
Culture Unit head Tim Curtis, the project will benefit World Heritage sites in other countries also affected by flooding such as Pakistan, which was
flooded in 2011, and Cambodia, as well as the Philippines. World Heritage sites also need to be prepared for the threats of other natural disasters
such as earthquakes and fires. "If you lose a World Heritage site, it is gone forever. You cannot rebuild it," he said, adding that it is better to have a
risk mitigation plan in place. [Source: Bangkok Post - Writer: Karnjana Karnjanatawe]

UNESCO launches project to develop a flood risk mitigation plan for Ayutthaya World Heritage Site

22 March 2013 - Bangkok - UNESCO is launching a project to develop a flood risk mitigation plan for the World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya. The
launch event at UNESCO Bangkok on 22 March 2013 was attended by key players of Thailand’s national flood risk reduction efforts and
representatives from the embassies of Germany, Japan, Portugal and the United States that have been actively involved in Ayutthaya’s post-flood
recovery in 2011 and 2012.   The project was developed following the floods of 2011 that heavily affected the Ayutthaya Historic City World
Heritage Site. The project is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under its water financing programme. “Disaster risk mitigation is one of
the top priorities for World Heritage protection identified by the World Heritage Committee,” said Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Bangkok.
Since October 2011, the Thai authorities have undertaken extensive repair work at the World Heritage site and have invested in water management
systems for the Chao Phraya River basin. However, up to now, there has not been any long-term effort to protect Ayutthaya’s heritage assets from
future flooding. This two-year project will assess the flood risks at the Ayutthaya World Heritage site and then develop a flood risk mitigation plan.
Experts will undertake hydraulic modeling using computer simulations for flood risks at the site. Then, based on the results, project partners will
develop a flood risk mitigation plan together with local stakeholders. International expertise in risk preparedness for cultural heritage conservation will
be mobilized by UNESCO Bangkok in order to guide the development of the flood risk mitigation plan in line with international conservation
standards. Mr. Kim said that upon successful completion of this project, “Ayutthaya will be the first World Heritage site in Southeast Asia with a
management plan for flood risk mitigation, setting an example for other World Heritage sites around the region.” The project will be undertaken by the
UNESCO Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE) based in the Netherlands, in close collaboration with UNESCO Bangkok. Project
partners include the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute (HAII), the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Fine Arts Department of Thailand.
An international expert seminar to commence the consultation sessions for the development of the flood risk mitigation plan is planned for October
2013. [Source: UNESCO Bangkok]

Department to educate public on preserving ancient sites

31 January 2013 - More than 10 ancient sites in Thailand had been destroyed in the past 30 years, including some by building encroachments on
the
Ayutthaya Historical Park and World Heritage Site, Fine Arts deputy chief Anek Sihamas said yesterday. In Bangkok, too, buildings of
architectural value had been pulled down, he said. As a result, the department would educate the public about the value of ancient sites and revive
projects for local volunteers to work on art and culture heritage conservation, Anek said. Department chief Sahawat Naenna said 2,000 out of
Thailand's 8,000 ancient sites had been registered for protection. The rest were still in the process because the department could register only about
100-150 sites each year. Consequently many unprotected sites were being destroyed. Sahawat said he would initially propose pending-registration
sites to be listed as national ancient sites until listed in the Royal Gazette. The public would then realise their value and notify the department prior to
any renovation or modification. Despite the Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums Act 1961, Anek said many areas had seen
encroachment and demolition of ancient sites. More than 10 registered ancient sites, as well as other not-yet-registered ancient sites, had been
destroyed or modified in the past 30 years. In the Northeast, ancient cities in Nakhon Ratchasima, Roi Et and Kalasin had been turned into farmland
by villagers who didn't know the sites were of archaeological value, he said. In northern areas like Chiang Rai and Phayao, it was found that locals
had built new pagodas covering ancient ones. In Central Thailand, especially Ayutthaya, some buildings had been constructed on the Ayutthaya
Historical Park and World Heritage Site; while in Bangkok old buildings of architectural value had been demolished, he added. [Source: The Nation -
by Pakamard Jaichalard]

Minister challenges GHF evaluation

11 May 2012: Culture Minister Sukumol Khunplome insists Ayutthaya will continue as a UNESCO World Heritage Site although the historical ruins
topped the
Global Heritage Fund’s list of 10 most endangered heritage sites in Asia. The fund is neither related nor linked to UNESCO. Thailand’s
Ayutthaya Historical Park was first listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in1991. “Although Ayutthaya topped the warning list released by the
Global Heritage Fund, we should note that the report was not prepared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
(UNESCO).” Founded in the United States’ California in 2002, GHF is a non-profit organisation that operates internationally. It has invested over
US$25 million and secured US$20 million in co-funding for 19 global heritage sites to ensure their sustainable preservation and responsible
development. GHF specifically focuses funding and conservation efforts on the developing world because of scarce human and technical resources.
Ms Sukumol claimed “UNESCO officials had confirmed that they had not considered removing the ancient ruins from the world heritage site list.”
She questioned the credibility of the GHF report, adding that
UNESCO experts have been visiting and inspecting the site with Thai officials
on a regularly basis and had not found any threat or serious deterioration
. “The Ministry of Culture is in the process of requesting further
clarification from the Global Heritage Fund, which publishes the list,” she added. According to the GHF’ Saving Our Vanishing Heritage: Asia’s
Heritage in Peril report, Thailand’s Ayutthaya sustained major damage during last year’s flood crisis and the site is also being
threatened by
mismanagement
and a lack of a suitable restoration budget. The report said in 2011 major flood damaged 158 historic monuments and caused
the closure of hundred of factories. At the time Thailand’s Culture Minister, Sukumol Khunplome, estimated that
flood damage over six weeks was
comparable to the accumulated water erosion damage sustained over centuries
. Also, the report added historically, the budget assigned to
historical sites in Thailand had not met the amount requested by conservationists, requiring additional funding from other international agencies to
support efforts in Ayutthaya. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra approved a budget of around US$162 million to implement water
management and flood prevention projects, with around
US$25 million allocated specifically to repair ancient sites. The other nine sites at risk
are: Philippines’ Fort Santiago and Intramuros; China’s Kashgar; Bangladesh’s Mahasthangarh; Afghanistan’s Mes Aynak; Myanmar’s Myauk-U;
Laos’ Plain of Jars; Cambodia’s Preah Vihear; India’s Rakhigari; and Pakistan’s Taxila. The list was compiled by GHF experts based on the 2010
study, Saving Our Vanishing Heritage, which surveyed 500 major sites in developing countries to evaluate current loss and destruction, conservation
and development. [Source: TTR Weekly - by Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit]

Culture Ministry insists Ayutthaya ruins to remain world heritage

8 May 2012 - Culture Minister Sukumol Khunploem has played down a report about the Ayutthaya ruins topping the list of the 10 most endangered
heritage sites in Asia, noting that the report was not prepared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Mrs Sukumol insisted that Thailand’s Ayutthaya Historical Park will continue to be listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO as it has been since
1991. According to the minister, UNESCO officials have confirmed that they have no plan to remove the ancient ruins from the world heritage site
list. Mrs Sukumol also questioned the credibility of the report, adding that UNESCO experts have been visiting and inspecting the site with Thai
officials on a regularly basis and have not found it to be under any threat of deterioration. The Culture Ministry is in the process of requesting further
clarification from the
Global Heritage Fund (GHF), which published the top-ten list of most vulnerable sites. According to the GHF, the Ayutthaya
Historical Park sustained major damages during last year's flood crisis. Its report also claimed that the site is being threatened by mismanagement
and
lack of restoration budget. [Source: NNT]

UNESCO denies involvement in Ayutthaya threat study

5 May 2012 - A report listing Ayutthaya among 10 historic sites in Asia under threat due to over development and mismanagement was not prepared
by
UNESCO, a spokesman from the Fine Arts Department says. UNESCO contacted the department to clarify the origins of the report. The list was
prepared by the NGO-owned
Global Heritage Fund, which is a different entity than UNESCO's World Heritage Fund. Staff at UNESCO's
Bangkok headquarters clarified the matter with the Fine Arts Department, fearing that the bodies' similar names could create confusion. UNESCO
has listed the palace and temple ruins of the former capital as a world heritage site. ''The names of the two funds can cause confusion when they are
translated into Thai because of their similar meanings,''
Fine Arts Department chief Somsuda Leyavanija said yesterday. UNESCO's World
Heritage Committee is scheduled to meet in St Petersburg in Russia between June 25 and July 5, but it is not clear whether the group will discuss
world heritage sites which are under threat and require restoration. ''There is currently no such item on the agenda,'' Ms Somsuda said. Global
Heritage Fund executive director Jeff Morgan earlier listed Ayutthaya as among historic sites in Asia under threat due to a variety of factors from
unsustainable tourism development, poor management and wars. Ayutthaya was severely hit by flooding late last year which damaged 158 historic
monuments, the fund's report noted. The report added that the government has not provided an adequate budget to restore flood-damaged sites. The
Fine Arts Department, while admitting the Ayutthaya historic zone is facing encroachment from vendors and urban development, denied that the core
of the city's ancient beauty is under threat.
Culture Minister Sukumol Khunploem also insisted the government granted adequate funding to
restore 311 historic sites in Ayutthaya after the flood. [Source: Bangkok Post]

Ayutthaya tops endangered sites list

4 May 2012 - Ayutthaya tops the list of the 10 most endangered Heritage sites in Asia, according to the Global Heritage Fund. Asia's architectural
treasures, from a Buddhist monastery in Afghanistan to an ancient city in China, are in danger of vanishing under a tide of economic expansion, war
and tourism, according to experts. The Global Heritage Fund (GHF) named 10 sites facing "irreparable loss and destruction." The top 10 endangered
sites in Asia, according to the Global Heritage Fund, are:
1. Ayutthaya ruins in Thailand, the former Siamese capital that was sacked by Burmese invaders in 1767, prompting the move to Bangkok.
2. Fort Santiago in the Philippines.
3. Kashgar, one of the last preserved Silk Road cities in China.
4. Mahasthangarh, one of South Asia's earliest archeological sites in Bangladesh.
5. Mes Aynak, an Afghan Buddhist monastery complex on the Silk Road.
6. Myauk-U, capital of the first Arakenese kingdom in Myanmar.
7. Plain of Jars, a mysterious megalithic site in Laos.
8. Preah Vihear, a Khmer architectural masterpiece in Cambodia.
9. Rakhigari, one of the biggest, ancient Indus sites in India.
10. Taxila, an ancient economic crossroads in Pakistan.
Based on the GHF's report, the ruins of Ayutthaya were declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
(UNESCO) as a world heritage in 1991. It suffered greatly during last year's great flood, which damaged 158 historic monuments. The government's
budget for the management and preservation of the site has also not met the amount requested by conservationists. Fine Arts Department deputy
director Anek Sihamat accepted that the
Historic City of Ayutthaya has been under threat of encroachment from vendors and urban
development
. This had led to worries the site might be removed from the UNESCO world heritage list. "It is a prolonged problem and we well
realise it. So the department and local authorities have been working together on the site’s conservation, tourism, urban development and city planning
aspects," Mr Anek said. "To be frank, the site is moderately at risk from rapid development in order to accommodate tourists. But to be at risk does
not mean that it is really ruined or destroyed," he said. "If the site is really listed as an endangered site, UNESCO will give a warning of the need to
improve and solve the problems before removing from the list." [Source: Bangkok Post]

Culture Minister led international diplomats to visit World Heritage Sites in Ayutthaya

24 March 2012 - The Culture Ministry has led a group of international diplomats to inspect World Heritage sites in Ayutthaya Province. Culture
Minister Sukumol Kunplome said that last year's severe flooding has apparently affected and caused serious damages to World Heritage sites and
various ancient ruins in Ayutthaya Province. Mrs. Sukumol stated that UNESCO and several governments have expressed their concern and offered
support for the restoration of all damaged historical sites, in the forms of grant, specialists and public donation. In order to convince tourists about the
ongoing restoration work, the Culture Ministry has led an international delegation, comprising ambassadors and their spouses from 23 countries as
well as local and international media, on an inspection trip to all major sites in Ayutthaya. The 2-day trip, which began on Friday, was also intended to
strengthen diplomatic ties and boost confidence among foreign tourists. Regarding the progress in the restoration of damaged ancient sites, Fine Arts
Department Deputy Director-General Anek Seehamart said that the department is now in the process of finding contractors to restore more than 10
major historical attractions, including
Wat Chai Watthanaram and Wat Phra Sri Sanphet. Mr. Anek expects the actual work to commence at the
beginning of April.

Caution ordered for fair in Historical Park

07 February 2012 - AYUTTHAYA -The Red Cross Fair's light and sound show, to be held from February 10 - 19 in the Ayutthaya historical park,
will be sited 10 metres away from the world heritage site and there would be no firework lighting, Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome said Tuesday.
A 10-metre section of
Wat Mahathat's ancient wall collapsed after the devastating flood last year. Sukumol said the authority was finding Bt4 million
to fix the wall, and is awaiting a full report from the Fine Arts Department. She has instructed the department to closely monitor the situation and find
innovative construction and restoration methods to fix and strengthen the ancient sites.  As for the upcoming fair, Sukumol had discussed with the
province ways to prevent further damage. They agreed to have the stage moved 10 metres away from the site while the speakers were also moved
and turned outwards, she said. [Source: The Nation]

Japanese cultural experts report on status of Ayutthaya World Heritage site

05 January 2012 - In a press conference hosted by the Thai Ministry of Culture’s Fine Arts Department on 22 December 2011, a team of 8
Japanese experts reported on their recent technical mission to Ayutthaya. H.E. Mr. Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, Thai Vice Minister for Culture,
opened the conference thanking UNESCO and the Japanese Government for their continuous support and cooperation in the salvage of the
Ayutthaya World Heritage site. Ms Somsuda Leyavanija, Director of Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture, joined her Vice Minister by
conveying her gratitude to the Japanese Government in “protecting the invaluable heritage of Ayutthaya”. Etienne Clement, Deputy Director,
UNESCO Bangkok, affirmed UNESCO’s continuous commitment and support to protect and safeguard the World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya after
the tremendous flood in 2011. “UNESCO is concerned about the recovery of Ayutthaya both in the short-term and the long-term. A multi-
disciplinary effort will be needed to ensure that the historic site and its larger urban and natural context will be sustainably managed in the future”, he
said. “From UNESCO’s perspective, it will be important to comprehensively address all the issues necessary for this long-term sustainability of the
site. The issues range from very specific technical concerns, such as mural conservation to very large-scale issues such as disaster response and
integrated urban and environmental planning”, he said. “Like at other sites in Asia and around the world, UNESCO plays a key role to support
governments to mobilize the needed expertise across all these different specializations to react quickly and plan strategically in response to these kinds
of disasters”, Mr. Clement closed.
H.E. Seiji Kojima, Ambassador of Japan to Thailand expressed his gratitude to the Thai people in their support to Japan in the aftermath of the
devastating earthquake this year and confirmed the Japanese flood recovery support for Thailand. In regard to Ayutthaya, Mr. Kojima confirmed “the
importance of Ayutthaya not only for Thailand but for the whole world”, which hugely justifies the intervention of international and Japanese experts in
assessing and restoring the site. In relation to the mutual help and support of the two countries in the aftermath of their respective disaster situations,
Mr. Kojima said: “We can understand the feelings of Thai people and Thai people can understand the feelings of the Japanese”. A first international
expert mission had taken place from 30 November to 1 December to assess the status of key monuments after the flooding in 2011 with temporary
water levels up to 3 meters. On 18-21 December another mission followed by the team of 8 Japanese experts, composed of conservation specialists,
architects, painting restoration specialists and photographers of the National Research Institute for Cultural properties in Tokyo, Japan, and the Japan
Agency for Cultural Affairs. The experts undertook damage analysis, emergency stabilization, restoration and long-term management assessment.
This survey, like the previous one from late November, again focused on key monuments such as
Pompetch, Wat Phra Srisanpetch, Wat Mahathat,
Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Chai Wattanaram, Wat Ayothaya, Wat Maheyong, Wat Ku Deedao, Wat Pradoo, Wat Choeng Ta and Wat Phuttaisawan.
The scientists assessed the monuments’ upper and sub-structures, and the murals in Wat Pradoo, Wat Choeng Ta and Wat Phuttaisawan. For the
expert team, Mr. Wataru Kuwanobe, Director of the National Research Institute for Cultural properties in Tokyo, Japan, debriefed on the status of
the inspected monuments, confirming that the flood did not directly produce major damages and that the site’s main monuments are not at immediate
risk. However, the floods have exacerbated underlying vulnerabilities of the site, which show a series of damages and general deterioration due to
past floods and environmental and human influences over time. The site will need a long-term conservation and management plan and, in reply to a
question from the press, the status of the site’s sub-structures and the ground will need further analysis and measuring. The entire historic island of
Ayutthaya and its surrounding area was flooded for more than a month starting in early October 2011, with a total of 157 historic monuments in and
around Ayutthaya World Heritage Site affected. Ayutthaya was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991. Founded c. 1350, the historic city was
the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. [Source: UNESCO Bangkok]

Pols, business leaders raise 850,000 baht for Ayutthaya ruins restoration

30 December 2011 - Politicians and local business leaders raised 850,000 baht to help restore ancient ruins damaged by floods in Ayutthaya. The
Dec. 21 charity dinner at the Zign Hotel was organized by the Banglamung and Pattaya governments, Eastern Thai Hotel Association, Pattaya
Business & Tourism Association, Union of Pattaya Entrepreneurs, Pattaya Expats Club, Lions Clubs, and Rotary Clubs. Each table cost 15,000
baht. Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome says it’s the responsibility of all Thais to cooperate in restoring remains of the
historic city of Ayutthaya.
Organizers said it was the responsibility of all Thais to cooperate in restoring remains of the historic city, as they are key symbols of Siamese history,
art and culture, as well as a key source of tourism revenue. Among the guests at the Sidella Balloon were Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome,
Banglamung District Chief Chawalit Saeng-Uthai, Pattaya Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh, PBTA President Wiwat Pattanasin and Pattaya Business
Confederation President Sa-nga Kijsamret. [Source: Pattaya Mail]

Flood Damages Ayutthaya Historical Park

22 December 2011 - The director of the Fine Arts Division 3 Office in Ayutthaya Province is concerned about the damage on a pagoda at Phra Ram
Temple, while engineers found that many historical sites are eroding due to land subsidence. Officials at the Ayutthaya Historical Park found a crack
at the base of one of the pagodas on the southwestern site of Phra Ram Temple. 13 areas of glass walls inside the pagoda have also been found
damaged. Tourists were warned to avoid entering these areas. Supod Prommanoch, the Director of the Fine Arts Division 3 Office said that besides
crack lines at the base of a pagoda and damaged glass-walls at Phra Ram Temple, many areas of historical site are also damaged, including the old
city wall behind
Phra Sri Sanpet Temple, next to Thor Canal. He said these areas have been previously restored before the disastrous flooding.
However, due to excessive volumes of floodwater pooled up in the historical site for a period of time, many historical areas in Koh Muang have been
damaged.  Officials were ordered to deploy warning signs to warn tourists of the dangerous zones near the historical sites. Supod accepted that the
major concern is that many historical sites in Ayutthaya Province, including at the East and West of Koh Muang, have been badly damaged and
began to subside for an average of five centimeters. Engineers have already assessed the damage in order to report this matter to the director-general
of the Fine Arts Department. Supod further said the root-cause of land subsidence was that large volumes of floodwater pooled up in the historical
site for a period of time. This will take time to restore the areas since some areas, such as
Chai Wattanaram Temple are still submerged with 30
centimeters of floodwater. It is necessary to wait for the water to ease in order to drain out the water into Chao Phraya River. This is because
draining out the water now will lead to an immediate land subsidence. The budget for restoration of Chai Wattanaram Temple is at approximately 30
million baht. [Source: Thailandoutlook.tv]

Fine Arts officials decline evacuation to safeguard Ayutthaya treasures

11 Oct 2011 - Some of approximately 100 officials from the Region 3 Fine Arts Office who were marooned with a group of local residents in
flooded
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park yesterday said they would stay to watch over the park's ancient artefacts. Fine Arts Department
chief Somsuda Leyavanija said the stranded officials guarding the park, along with the
Chawsamphraya National Museum and Chantharakasem
National Museum, had insisted on staying because they were worried artefacts might be lost. The department had provided some supplies, but
Somsuda urged the provincial governor to assist by sending them more drinking water and food. ... [Source: The Nation]

What on earth are they doing in Ayutthaya?

17 January 2011 - Should Ayutthaya be the city for everything? That's not a good idea at all. The old capital is back in the limelight again. This time
authorities from the provincial level down to tambon organisation administrations hope their city will get a shot at being the site of World Expo 2020.
Last Wednesday they convinced Vincente Gonzalez Loscertales, secretary-general of the Bureau International des Expositions, that their place could
be a perfect site for the world-class, cash-generating event. The visitor was greeted by local residents with banners hailing Ayutthaya as the best
choice for the event. He was escorted around to get a glimpse of key historical sites around the city. Ayutthaya plans to use 1,440 rai of land in Bang
Sai district near the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen to hold the World Expo if it is selected as the
host. "We have a lot of strong points including transport, culture and agriculture," Ayutthaya governor Withaya Pewpong boasted about his city. The
campaign to be the World Expo host is just the beginning. Ayutthaya has to fight Chon Buri and Chiang Mai, the two other Thai candidates vying to
clinch the lucrative chance to represent the kingdom. Then there are other outside competitors including Sao Paulo, Guangdong, Copenhagen,
Ankara, Dubai and Cape Town.

It will be good news if Ayutthaya loses this opportunity. The sooner the city is out, the better it is for the old capital. Ayutthaya should have not been
listed as a potential host from the beginning. Now it is. So let's hope for a quick out so that the authorities there will stop this burst of enthusiasm and
get back to the job of tackling the problems at hand. The province should be reserved only as a World Heritage site under the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. This position alone lures tourists there with billions of baht generated from their visits. Ayutthaya is
so popular and well-known that many foreigners go there directly after their plane lands at Suvarnabhumi Airport, intentionally bypassing Bangkok.
But this position alone is difficult for authorities to maintain. Don't forget that Ayutthaya is plagued with lots of problems, which could possibly make it
lose its World Heritage status if the mess is not resolved. That status for Ayutthaya will be reviewed at the World Heritage Committee's meeting this
year in Bahrain, as the reviews of Asian sites come about every six years. The city was awarded the title in 1991 and this year Thailand has to show
the committee members that it is taking good care of all historical places there. Failing to win the nod from the panel will mean a warning. That will be
bad enough. If nobody in the province and central government heeds that warning, the World Heritage status can be stripped. It is not difficult to
imagine the doom if that actually happens. What taints the old capital is poor management of the landscape of historic sites. Illegal souvenir vendors
are rampant and many new structures have been built to unintentionally spoil the century-old atmosphere. These are some of the problems which Fine
Arts and local officials have to resolve.

In addition to that, many old sites outside the World Heritage compound also have problems too. One case last year which showed the ignorance of
officials looking after them was that famous toilet. It was installed in the open air at
Prasat Nakhon Luang in Nakhon Luang district built during King
Songtham's reign between 1611 and 1628. The sanitaryware stirred an outcry from tourists as they wondered why it was there creating such an
eyesore and showing no respect for a national asset. In fact the toilet had been there since 2004, six years before it was in the news. It was for old
monks who were too frail to come down from Prasat to the toilets at the temple ground. Fortunately, that toilet is now history and everyone wants to
forget about it. After his Ayutthaya visit, let's hope Mr Loscertales thinks World Heritage status is enough for the province with no need to add the
expo status as well. [Source: Bangkok Post - by Saritdet Marukatat]

Panel will manage ancient ruins

23 July 2010 - A committee will take over the Fine Arts Department's job in caring for ancient ruins in the old capital to defuse disputes between the
department and residents. Apirak Kosayodhin, an adviser to the prime minister, has agreed to set up a multi-party committee to take over the
department's job in the old capital, the Provincial Administration Organisation Council said. Council secretary-general Chatri Yudhprasert raised the
proposal with Mr Apirak, who agreed in principle to form the Ayutthaya World Heritage committee made up of local bodies, scholars, members of
the public and departmental officials. It will serve as a model for other provinces with archaeological sites, Mr Chatri said. Residents are unhappy with
many projects launched by the Fine Arts Department in the
Ayutthaya historical park. They say they are not consulted and have suggested a
committee step in instead. One controversy concerns the department's plan to build a tram stop in front of the
old provincial hall. Residents
complained when the erection of 32 piles during construction caused an eyesore. The hall serves as an art museum. Ayutthaya governor Witthaya
Piewdhpong has asked the department to remove the piles, but it has pulled down only 14. The constitution gives people the right to manage and take
care of their own neighbourhood, Mr Chatri said. [Source: Bangkok Post]

Fine Arts looks at banning cars from listed site. Ayutthaya stalls imperil World Heritage status.

17 June 2010 - The Fine Arts Department is considering banning vehicles from an area inside the historical park in the former capital to help
prevent the site from being stripped of its World Heritage list. The
Ayutthaya Historical Park, which was declared a world heritage site by the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 1991, faces problems with illegal vendors setting up stalls too close to the site. Many use
their cars as makeshift stalls. This has raised concerns at the department and among provincial authorities. They say the park could be delisted due to
the failure of Thailand to properly manage the area. The main problem is at
Wat Mongkol Borpitr, the park's main tourist attraction. The department
has set aside space behind the main hall of the temple for authorised vendors. But
about 400 illegal souvenir sellers have set up businesses in front
of the temple. Department director-general Kriengkrai Sampatchalit said the problem could be solved through the introduction of a blanket ban on
vehicles entering the park. The plan needs the approval of other agencies including the Culture Ministry. It could be launched in October if all parties
are agreed, he said. The department has set up an alternative space for vendors to operate farther from the temple. Shuttle buses will provide a free
service for tourists to visit the authorised vendor area. Mr Kriengkrai hoped the plan will encourage vendors to move from the historical park to the
new parking area. Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombut, who yesterday took senior officials from the ministry on an inspection of the historical site,
said some vendors were happy to move to the new venue. Tongbron Homtong, who says he represents vendors at Wat Mongkol Borpitr inside the
historical park, said he and about other 144 vendors had already moved. "We all were willing to move because we were afraid the site would be
removed from the world heritage" Mr Tongbron said. "But after we moved out, hundreds of new vendors occupied our former place". Mr Tongbron
also complained that only a few visitors were shopping at the new space provided. [Source: Bangkok Post - Writer: Lamphai Intathep]

Prison, univ make way for preservation

15 February 2010 - The Culture Ministry is moving to relocate a prison and two university campuses from the historic compound in Ayutthaya for
fear they could affect the former capital's World Heritage listing. The plan unveiled by Culture Minister Teera Slukpetch calls for
the removal of the
Ayutthaya Special Rehabilitation Prison, Ayutthaya Rajabhat University and Rajamangala University of Technology Suvarnabhumi's
Huntra campus from the old capital zone
. The ministry has proposed spending 1.6 billion baht to preserve and revitalise the historic city. The
budget pending cabinet approval covers preservation projects proposed by the Fine Arts Department, relocation of the prison and the two university
campuses and promotion plans by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ayutthaya provincial municipality. The historic site of Ayutthaya was
listed as a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 1992. Mr Teera said the core zone was
under threat of rapid urbanisation. "From now on, construction work will not be permitted in the core zone", he said. The 1979 Building Control Act
and the 1975 Town and Country Planning Act would be better enforced to protect places with historical value. Fine Arts Department director-
general Kriengkrai Sampatchalit said no one would be forced to leave, but they would be told the city should not be extended to ensure the site
continued to meet UNESCO criteria. [Source: Bangkok Post - Writer: Lamphai Intathep]

Historic park plan hopes to lure tourists

05 February 2010 - Provincial governor Wittaya Piewphong is upbeat about a plan to improve the city's historical park to attract more tourists to the
former capital. "The campaign is expected to convince more visitors to visit Ayutthaya", Mr Wittaya said yesterday.
The city will spend 68 million
baht in a campaign to improve and preserve the park
, launched by the Fine Arts Department and energy giant PTT Exploration Production
(PTTEP). Models of the historical park will be created and information boards put up to give tourists a better understanding of the park's sites and
the history of the area. The models and information boards will be placed around the park compound, including at the Sanphet Prasat Pavilion, the
Suriyas Amarindra Pavilion, the Banyong Rattanart Pavilion, the Viharn Somdej Pavilion and the fortresses. The campaign will cover six temples:
Wat
Mahathat, Wat Rat Burana, Wat Phra Ram, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon and Wat Mae Nang Pluem. The information boards will
be based on the present ruins with other information aimed at providing a clear picture to tourists of what they looked like in the past", said
department director-general Kriangkrai Sampatchalit after a religious ceremony at the park. Books and brochures about the sites will be distributed
to 30,000 schools as part of the scheme to promote the value of the country's heritage and the importance of preservation among young people. The
campaign comes under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2007 by the department and PTTEP to preserve historical sites listed as World
Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). PTTEP chief executive Anon Sirisaengtaksin said
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had accepted the role of honorary adviser to the campaign because the Ayutthaya park was
the model used to build the Grand Palace in Bangkok. "The project is expected to take 600 days to complete all the improvements and preserve the
site in time to celebrate His Majesty the King's 84th birthday [on Dec 5, 2011]", Mr Anon said. The Ayutthaya Historical Park has been included on
UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites since 1991. About 4 million people visit the park every year, most of them Europeans. The visits bring in at
least 500 million baht a year, the governor said. [Source: Bangkok Post - Writer: Lamphai Intathep]

Ayutthaya Historical Park taking shape

05 February 2010 - Vigorous efforts are now up and running to recreate the core zone of the once-splendid capital of Ayutthaya in 3D models and
animation. "We have already recreated six temples in pictures", Fine Arts Department director-general Grienggrai Sampatchalit said yesterday. He
was speaking after attending a ceremony to worship late Thai kings at the
Ayutthaya Historical Park. The ancient complex at Ayutthaya is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site. PTT Exploration and Production has provided more than Bt68 million for the project to conserve the complex in
honour of His Majesty the King. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has been the chief adviser to this project. Grienggrai said officials would
develop the pictures and models for the reconstruction, based on the ancient remains. "Once the project is completed, visitors will be able to see the
models that will depict clearly where each structure was located in the old days", he said. Grienggrai added that animation would also be produced
and kept for study purposes at learning centres. Methadon Wijakkhana, who heads the Ayutthaya Historical Park, said the models would be very
close to what stood in Ayutthaya centuries ago. "This is because we have developed the models not just from historical remains but also from old
documents", he said. Methadon pointed out that photos taken in the reign of King Rama V could be used to develop the model for
Wat Mahathat.
He added that there was also an old map prepared by Dutchmen. "This is the first time innovative technology has been used at the Ayutthaya
Historical Park", he said. He believed the project would boost the number of visitors to the park. Once completed, the pictures and models will be
put right next to the historical remains so that visitors have a clearer idea of what Ayutthaya looked like in the past. Currently, the Ayutthaya Historical
Park attracts 1.2 million tourists from about 90 countries annually. Of them, about 60 per cent are from Europe. [Source: The Nation - Writer:
Pakamard Jaichalard]

Ayutthaya feared to be removed from World Heritage list

04 June 2008 - Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung travels to Ayutthaya province to observe the situation following the government’s concern that
the province may be removed from the list of World Heritage. The minister visits historical sites with his entourage including the governor of Ayutthaya
and officials from the Fine Arts Department and relevant units to inspect the revival of Ayutthaya World Heritage. Ayutthaya is feared to be stripped
off its title of World Heritage as street vendors trespass on many historical sites in the province, leading to untidiness and a sight unsightly. Mr
Chalerm says he has instructed relevant units to explain the situation to local people and manage the areas surrounding the historical sites
appropriately. Street vendors will be strictly prohibited from selling goods in the restricted areas of the historical sites. [Source: NNT]

Ayutthaya might be removed from UNESCO's World Heritage list

12 Nov 2007 - Culture Minister Khunying Khaisri Sriaroon said Wednesday it would be "unfortunate and embarrassing" if UNESCO removes the
Historic City of Ayutthaya and Associated Historic Towns from the World Heritage list after the site was under threat of land encroachments from
rapid development.  Khaisri had received an initial report from the Fine Arts Department claiming the site, inscribed on Unesco's World Heritage List
in December 1991, had problems with city planning that might lead to the site being removed from the list, the minister said. Ayutthaya was also
deemed a world heritage with the most problems with land encroachments, which was now beyond Fine Arts Department officials' control, Khaisri
said. The ministry will now ask for cooperation from the Ayutthaya Governor to ensure the site was maintained according to the Unesco criteria, she
added. If the site was not taken care of or kept in good condition and was removed from the list, it would be unfortunate and embarrassing, she said.
It would show that the Thais did not see the importance of their cultural heritage, while other countries were striving hard to have their cultural sites
included on the UNESCO World Heritage list, according to Khaisri. The best group to take care of the Historic City of Ayutthaya and Associated
Historic Towns was the local communities who could keep a close watch on anything suspicious, she urged.
Fine Arts Department Director General Kriengkrai Sampatchalit said that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee would inspect the ancient sites
on the list to see how they were being maintained. He said that he had learned that the committee was considering grading the heritage site according
to a colour code. The colour code comprised red, meaning the site was at risk of being removed from the list; yellow, meaning the site needs
improvements, while green meant the site is in good condition, he said. He urged that the existing problems could still be solved and he would soon
discuss with all sides to end the problems.
Fine Arts Office 3 director Anek Sihamat said the site's inner area covering 1,800 rai - out of the total 6,000 rai where many of important historical
places such as
Wat Phra Sri Sanpetch and Wat Ratcha Burana were situated -  now had people building structures over these ancient sites. He cited
as an example a lawsuit between his office and the local administration body and residents over an over eight metre tall building that resulted in
construction's cancellation. However, such problems only affected around 10 per cent of the site's area. If they accounted for 40 to 50 per cent, then
it would be worrying and might lead to it being removed from the list, he said. Citing the time before the site's inclusion to the UNESCO list when
there were many land encroachments, Anek said the authorities solved the problems and had managed the area according to the Unesco criteria,
including moving an 11metre building to outside the urban area and having state agencies' offices located to a new city area.
Earlier,
Chao Sam Phraya Museum Director Subongkot Thongthongtip, said the site's problems resulted from no proper control over the city
planning
, which recently allowed high buildings to be built near the world heritage site, and urged that planning laws be strictly reinforced. Subongkot
said that she personally disbelieved a rumour that the site would be removed from the list because the UNESCO World Heritage regularly assess the
site and would warn the authority to improve matters before it would remove the site from the list. [Source: The Nation]