The magnificent complex of throne halls, museums and religious architecture, including the exquisite Emerald Buddha Temple, are often referred to as the jewel in the crown of Bangkok. Begun by King Rama I in 1782, they were constructed to emulate the glories of the former capital Ayutthaya, sacked by the Burmese some 15 years earlier. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the Thai monarchs lived within the Grand Palace and all important events took place within its walls. Thus in each of the nine reigns of the Chakri dynasty, the king has embellished or built new structures within the compound, thereby creating a storehouse of Thai architectural and decorative style over the last two hundred years. King Rama IX is no exception and his new throne hall is included in this volume. As well as describing the exquisite buildings within the Grand Palace, the book also illustrates many of the key sites which were built in its vicinity: Wat Phra Chetuphon, more commonly known as Wat Pho, the elegant colonial style Ministry of Defence, the City Pillar Shrine, Sanam Luang which has been a focal point for Thai life for over two centuries, the National Museum and the National Gallery and the newly-opened National Discovery Museum. Also included are photographs, old and new, of key Thai royal ceremonies. This beautifully photographed guide is the first to deal exclusively and in depth with the wealth of buildings to be explored at the Grand Palace and the surrounding Rattanakosin Island.