From Ideology to The History
you can experience

Ancient Cities, ruins or architecture are historic and constitute the splendors of the past. The past is the time, gone by, and its period represents a definite portion of time fixed by events occurring in nature or man-made in history, which follow one after another. The difference is that one precedes the other as the manner of the sun and the moon which take turns to give brightness to provide days, months and years. All phenomena have no point of beginning that can be clearly seen. There is a rotation-each following the other in regular order in a cycle. The effect today follows the cause of yesterday. The Change of tomorrow is what happens today. Therefore, man must know the events of the past. If we have no knowledge of the past, it is somewhat like a vessel without a compass and a rudder on the high sea. What will happen to that vessel is a matter of grave concern.

Moreover, great harm is derived from ignorance, but more harm is still caused by not knowing truly and yet pretending to know. The result is sure to be ruinous. In ancient as well as in present times, the successes and failures in innumerable cases result from such cause. True knowledge in art requires the time to study, pass and encounter many difficulties in bringing the unknown to light.

Nowadays everything seems to become narrower and narrower. A tiny thing, which occurs in one small corner of the world, may be able to stir all over the Globe. Thus, I am perturbed by the anxiety that the changing of the modern society, due to pressure of material things coupled with the present East and West cultures facing each other in a violent manner, might become still more serious. All the intellectuals or pundits should take special notice these events matter. Even those who hold their own bibles as their refuge for centuries have to leave their beliefs and turn to consider matters which they think antagonistic.

I strongly believe that the morality of the world population is deteriorating. And at the same time I cannot deny the advancement of science that is so valuable to mankind, incomparable in the any era. We, Asians, believe that the scientific approach can bring knowledge to human beings. But it cannot elevate the spirit of man. It has only paved the way for materialists in their search for worldly happiness.

Everything has to depend on the suitable position, right nucleus and right time. The suitable position means the position that is rightly means the needed environment at the time. If heaven needs something to remain, it will not develop beyond the limitation of growth. This is the state of balance according to the law of nature.

Suitability and beauty have no boundary in age. This can be proven by the existence of art, paintings and architecture that were beautifully created by man as Lasting treasures and have been handed down to us by our ancestors. Every piece of art is priceless. Some have become world treasures and adored by art lovers. They seem to have no nationality, no religion, and no limit in time. Only art has bestowed the refreshing spirit on human beings up to the present day. Therefore, we should give more serious thought and interest to art.

It is not only Art that has been given to us by our forbears. One must mention Culture here also. Both are linked as a national heritage. Some have been left without care, or in other words to be carved for by nature, and worse still destroyed by the hand of man. Though culture has been regarded as old fashioned, yet it is still suitable for human society.

Under the circumstances, I would like to draw the attention of the world population to come to witness our art, customs and culture. I believe certain that in one day or another they will benefit the noble spirit and will be a good reminder to those who are drawn to materialism. Thus the “Muang Boran” has been created. This may remedy the existing moral deterioration of the human society. But whether or not, this great problem can be solved and can achieve its aim, and who will solve it, my answer is that it will not be an individual but everybody together. It is not a matter of time from morn till night. It is to be months, years and even centuries. There is an old saying that “To build a hill, a lump of earth has its own value”. This can be compared with a traveler. Each step contributes and has its own value. To complete the building of one hill, it has to depend on the first lump of earth. To reach the end of the journey, it has to depend on first step.

If my own motto is not consonant with those who uphold that the present society is right and should advance its course further, I and compelled to implore them to do justice to what justice is. Seek goodness from the thing that we hate; seek badness from the one you love, in order that these can be in evidence to help judging the Thai arts, customs and culture of old; and whether they are as valuable as I judge them to be.

What will be the result?

I leave it to Heaven to ordain.

Lek-Praphai Viriyahbhun
Founder of Muangboran The Ancient City, Erawan Museum, Sanctuary of Truth

Lek Viriyahbhun
Ideology, Life, and Works

Mr. Lek Viriyahbhun was born in 1914 into a Chinese businessman's family in Sampeng, Thailand. He was later sent to university in Shanghai, China. It was during this period that he got to travel and become interested in arts and cultures. He accumulated professional knowledge and understanding of arts, religions, philosophies and cultures since an early period of his life. Until when his father fell ill, he then came back to Thailand to help with the family business. Later, through work relationships he met his wife and lifelong friend Ms.Prapai Viriyahbhun, who became a partner and inspiration throughout his business career.

His interests in the arts started from reading and collecting antiques when he was still a businessman, the more he understood how precious these antique pieces were, the more he felt a strong sense to preserve them. This inspired his to build the Ancient City, with the hope to bring all the great works in Thailand to showcase for people in the area to see and learn about.

The Dawn of Thoughts
by Mr.Lek Viriyahbhun

Since ancient times, Thai culture has constantly grown prosperous. It would have been meaningful for our past and present if the cultural splendor, through our knowledge and wisdom, could last forever.

The question is, why has such precious culture been undermined?

Is it because of people’s oblivion of their national culture, or are there other significant factors hidden behind?

After thinking thoroughly about this matter, it is obvious that Thai cultural prosper has gradually been wilting away because our cultural essence has never been properly acknowledged among modern people through proper means. We never have a proper way to make modern people thoroughly understand their cultural essence.

With rare opportunities to learn about the long-inherited culture, how can people appreciate and acknowledge it?

Being aware of this, we must take action right away and exert all efforts to support our cultural mission.

However, as the cultural scope is expansive, being composed of varied aspects including philosophies, beliefs, literature, arts, history, people, ways of living etc., we, therefore, are obliged to continue our mission determinedly and confidently.

Lek-Praphai Viriyahbhun

Founder of the Ancient City Group

Learning From The Past

Mr.Lek Viriyahbhun had involved extensively in the process of building the Ancient City, he studied the details, the design, and the meaning behind each murals and arts that are in the Ancient City thoroughly.

Mr. Lek and his family travelled with scholars and advisors all around Thailand to collect data to build the Ancient City, for over 10 years they kept sketches, notes, and photographs of the sites to use as references for their works, allowing them to build the Ancient City methodically with real knowledge.

Through these endeavors they discovered many sites and antique pieces in bad conditions, this inspired the Ancient City to transform from a tourist attraction to a real museum, where many historical artefacts are collected here under preservation of knowledgeable staff.

Built from Historical Evidences

The important building in the Ancient City that ensure this is not just a theme park is the Royal Sanphachen Throne Hall, from the Ayutthaya Period. It is an archaeological site with extremely limited evidences and data to support what the throne hall actually looked like in the past.

Today, the only thing left are some ruins in Ayutthaya Province, therefore it is extremely difficult to recreate, since it requires a lot of research and detailed evidences. Through intensive works, Mr.Lek Viriyahbhun along with a team of professionals, scholars, research archeologists successfully built the Royal Sanphachen Throne Hall with all family members support.

Later Royal Sanphachen Throne Hall in the Ancient City has been chosen by King Rama 9 of Thailand to be welcoming site for Queen Elizabeth II of United Kingdom during Her Majesty's royal visit in 1972.

Fine Arts

The construction of the Haw Phra Kaew and the Dusit Throne Hall is another challenge that Mr.Lek Viriyahbhun overcame.

Haw Phra Kaew was built from the image carved on a scripture cabinet from the late Ayutthaya Period. The scripture cabinet is now stationed at the Prapas Museum. Mr Lek chartered craftsmen from Shanghai to build a real building from the image of this carving, it was an extremely difficult process to design the frame of the building. A lot of time was spent on this site, which now has the appearance of a tall Chinese-style building.

Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall was built at the Ancient City as a symbol of the Rattanakosin Period, the difficulties in building the Dusit Throne Hall, which is still around today, is the alterations of the interior throughout the period. The interior, such as wall paintings and patterns, along with the internal structure of the Throne Hall was done in a fashion that shows off the splendor of Thai arts and architectures.

The Architectures

The plot of land at the very end of the Ancient City is the newest addition to the Ancient City, acquired during Mr.Lek Viriyahbhun later years in life.

It is the place that is built upon his own vision, the architectures mirror the religion beliefs and Eastern Philosophy, such as Mt.Sumane the Provice of Bodhisattva, Arhat Pavillion. These works are meant to be for educational purposes of Thai literature and religion.

These extraordinary works by Mr. Lek Viriyahbhun : his ideology, his vision and imagination on the basis of traditional beliefs were brought to life for everyone to share here at the Ancient City.

The Philosophy

Until the end of his life, the founder of the Ancient City, Mr.Lek Viriyahbhun, still kept his passion and love for arts and culture.
He carried on the works inside the Ancient City and the Sanctuary of Truth, a wood carving castle in Pattaya. He also founded the Erawan Museum in Samut Prakan, and kept working on these magnificent cultural icons, until his passing on 17 November, 2000.

Keeping Thai Culture Alive

Lek Viriyahbhun's previous work all speaks of his strong passion in keeping the Thai Culture alive, throughout his life, his principle was clearly seen. He wishes to preserve the Thai culture for future generations to see, going against the mainstream Western Culture. All his life works can be seen as a relentless effort to educate people about the authentic Thai way of life.

Even today after his passing, the Ancient City is still standing, carries on his wish to make the Ancient City a place for the future Thai generations to learn about themselves, to see and to be proud of their own culture.

The beginning of the building process
8 Pictures
His Majesty the King Rama 9 visiting the Ancient City
8 Pictures
Welcoming Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II
15 Pictures

The Image of the Past

The Ancient City is a setting where you can vividly see the Siamese's past. Here we would like to share the makings behind the the Ancient City itself. Where every ounce of hard work and dedication was put in to ensure that Thai Culture lives on .

Immerse yourself in the moment here with us.