Saphan Pa Than or the Bridge of the Charcoal Market is located on the city island in
Pratu Chai Sub-district, on the edge with Tha Wasukri Sub-district. The structure can
be found near the crossing of Naresuan Rd (former Pa Than Rd or also Chao Phrom
Rd) and the Chikun Rd opposite
Wat Racha Burana.

The brick bridge was built over
Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak (also called Khlong Pratu Jin
in the southern stretch) which connected the old
Lopburi River (later Khlong Mueang or
City Canal) in the north (near
Wat Tha Sai) with the Chao Phraya River in the south at
Pratu Chin. This canal was filled in last century and as thus at present inexistent, with the
exception of a small stretch of water between Wat Tha Sai and
Wat Racha Praditsathan
- close to its former mouth, called Pratu Khao Pluak. Only some brick work of the
former bridges remain as a last witness of the past.

The location was once a princely battleground. It was here that the two elder sons of
King Intharacha (r. 1409-1424), Ai Phraya and Yi Phraya fought for the throne of
Ayutthaya in 1424. Both were severely wounded and died from the combat. The
youngest brother, Chao Sam Phraya was then proclaimed King. He ordered two chedis
built on the site where his brothers engaged in combat and these still can be seen west of
the bridge.

In 780, a year of the dog, tenth of the decade, King Intharacha I passed away,
having been on the royal throne for [BCDF: fifteen] [E: eighteen] years. Prince
Ai Phraya and Prince Yi Phraya moved in to contend with each other for the royal
throne. Prince Ai Phraya [BDF: came and] [C: moved in and] set himself up in
the Municipality of Maphrao Forest at the Chai Pavilion [BCDF: Monastery].
Prince Yi Phraya came and set himself up at the Chaiyaphum Monastery so as to
enter the city by way of the Cao Phrom Market. The chief elephants met and
engaged each other at the foot of Than Forest Bridge. Both princes wielded war
scythes and both had their throats torn open at the same time. The chief ministers
went out to have an audience with Prince Sam Phraya and, informing him of the
events whereby his older brothers had both had their necks slashed while fighting
on elephants, invited him to enter the Capital and ascend the royal throne. He
took the royal title of King Bòromracha II. He then [BCEF: had] [D: gave an
order to have] the bodies of Prince Ai Phraya and Prince Yi Phraya dug up and
taken to be cremated. [BCDF: On the cremation site he had a monastery, with a
great holy reliquary and a preaching hall, established and named it the
Ratchaburana Monastery. On the site where Prince Ai Phraya and Prince Yi
Phraya fought each other to the death on elephants, at the foot of Than Forest
Bridge, he had two holy monuments erected.]

Yan (area) Pa Than was a morning and evening fresh market selling various kinds of fruit
such as oranges, bananas, sugarcane and other fresh food. The market was formed with
stalls, some permanent, or mats on the ground and was only functional in the morning
and evening. There were about 40 of these markets within and without the city walls. [2]

The foundations of the Pa Than Bridge (likely over-renovated) are still visible. The brick
bridge in European style can be taken as a model for all the other bridges in the city. It
was an arched construction with three sharply curved bows, the middle one higher and
wider than the two others, making it possible for boats to pass underneath. The
construction dates likely from King Narai’s reign (r. 1656-1688). Pa Than bridge stood
at a road crossing of two brick roads; one running north-south along the Khlong Pratu
Khao Pluak - Pratu Chin, the other one running east-west towards the Chao Phrom


[1] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 15 /
Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra
Cakkraphatdiphong, Royal Autograph & Thonburi fragment (1779) Khurusapha (1963).
King Boromracha II, 1424–1448.
[2] Discovering Ayutthaya - Charnvit Kasetsiri & Michael Wright (2007) - page 149,
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - October 2009