Bangkok is a fascinating, vibrant and cosmopolitan capital, with a rich history dating back more than 250 years. In even earlier times, the Siamese Kingdom centered on Thonburi as its capital, and its upstream predecessor, Ayutthaya. European nations were among the first to establish diplomatic, commercial and cultural relations with Siam and over the centuries many European traders and officials, architects and artists, engineers and clergymen visited, lived and worked in the Kingdom, leaving a heritage in all three successive capitals.
Following the success of last year’s print version of the European Heritage Map of Bangkok and Ayutthaya, the Delegation of the European Union (EU), together with the Thailand cluster of the EU National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC Thailand) and Talisman Media Group, have developed an android and iOS compatible app for smart phones called the European Heritage Map and Cultural Calendar of Thailand. It describes and illustrates some 220 sites at 25 destinations across Thailand that represent a common heritage resulting from centuries of Thai-European interactions, and it presents an up-todate overview of all cultural events organised by the EU’s Member States (and their institutes) in Thailand. In this way, the app aims to promote awareness and appreciation of the long and rich history of Euro-Thai relations, as well as promote the vibrant cultural exchanges of the present.
The print version of the map, which featured an initial 65 heritage sites, was hailed as a valuable tool for exploring this common heritage. The digital version surpasses its predecessor by some margin. The information it reveals may come as a surprise – there are palaces designed by Italian and German architects, churches established by the French and Portuguese,
trading posts left by Danish and Dutch businessmen, bridges of Belgian and British make, and even military uniforms of Polish design.
Examples of some of the magnificent historic buildings contained in the European Heritage Map include the residence of the Portuguese ambassador, Europe’s oldest diplomatic mission in Bangkok. Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the residence has been in Portuguese possession since 1820. Not far away, also on the river, is the headquarters building of Siam Commercial Bank, the Kingdom’s oldest bank. The building was designed by Italian architect Annibale Rigotti in 1910 and built in a majestic neo-Renaissance style.
This shared Thai-European heritage forms a strong foundation for the excellent relations that exist today between the Kingdom and the European Union and its Member States. Whether it helps you to discover new sites or encourages you to see them in a new light, the European Heritage Map and its app can also inspire you to contribute, even in small ways, to the heritage of European-Thai relations.
The European Heritage Map and Cultural Calendar of Thailand app is available FOR FREE in both the android market and app store.