A province in the central region of Thailand, Lop Buri Province is located approximately 154 kilometers north of Bangkok. Covering an area of 6,199 square kilometers, the province is situated on the western end of the Khorat Plateau. It borders Chaiyaphum and Nakhon Ratchasima Provinces on the east, Phetchabun and Nakhon Sawan Provinces on the north, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya and Saraburi Provinces on the South. Lop Buri Province is one of several provinces in central Thailand where many significant historical artifacts and prehistoric settlements have been discovered.
Formerly known as Lawo, Lop Buri had for centuries been ruled by several Kingdoms. The remains of Lop Buri, dating over 1,200 years attests to the strategic significance of Lop Buri to many rulers. These relics, ranging from the Bronze Age to the Ratanakosin period, have made Lop Buri a blend of east and west and ancient and modern, revealing the citys turbulent and alluring history and a glimpse of Thailands extraordinary past.
Lop Buri was first developed into a major town during the Dvaravati Kingdom (6th 11th centuries). Most historians believed the first settlers of the town were the Lawa (an ethnic group related to the Mons) which is the reason for naming the town Lawo. In 10th century, the town came under absolute sovereignty of the Khmers who made it one of their oldest provincial capitals. The Khmer Mahayana Buddhism style was a major influence on the towns architecture and was later commonly referred to as Lop Buri Style. Remains of KhmerHindu architectural motifs found in the city include the Shivas Shrine (Prang Khaek), San Phra Kan, Phra Prang Sam Yot, and Wat Phra Si Mahathat.
It was in the late 13th century when the Thais, who migrated from the North, fought against the Khmers and declared their independence. Since then, Lop Buri has been ruled by Thai Kings.
Lop Buri first became known when King U-Tong, who established the Ayutthaya Kingdom, sent his son, Ramesuan the Crown Prince, to govern the city. The Prince commanded the building of moats, city walls and battlement towers.
Lop Buri reached its height in 1664 when King Narai the Great of Ayutthaya named Lop Buri the Kingdoms second capital, which came after a threat of invasion from Hollanders. King Narai the Great rebuilt Lop Buri with the help of French architects and ruled the Kingdom from there, instead of Ayutthaya., Thus the citys architecture mostly reflected a mixture of Thai and Western styles, which can be seen today in the remains of the Royal Palace, the Royal Reception House etc.
Lop Buri gradually faded from the political scene with the death of King Narai the Great. It, however, made a comeback approximately 200 years later when King Rama IV of the Ratanakosin Era decided to restore the city. He also commanded the restoration of the old Palace and named it Phra Narai Ratchaniwet (Narai Ratchaniwet Palace) in honor of King Narai the Great.
After Thailands democratic revolution, Marshall Poh Pibulsongkram rebuilt a military camp near the citys railroad, therefore, dividing the city into the old (ancient) and new zone.
Today, Lop Buri is administratively divided into 11 Amphoes (Districts) including Muang, Ban Mi, Chai Badan, Khok Charoen, Khok Samrong, Phatthana Nikhom, Tha Luang, Tha Wung, Sa Bot, Lam Sonthi and Nong Muang. Apart from historical attractions, Lop Buri provides opportunities for nature lovers to visit its famous Sap langka Wildlife Sanctuary in the north. Another special landmark of Lop Buri is monkeys. To tourists, the city is known as the land of monkeys. To the people of Lop Buri, the monkeys are descendants of Hanuman who, according to the Ramayana, built Lop Buri as his kingdom. The food offerings in San Phra Kan drew the monkeys from nearby forests. These mischievous monkeys have taken over several attractions such as San Phra Kan and Phra Prang Sam Yot. A big feast for the monkeys on the last Sunday of November is held annually at Phra Prang Sam Yot and is one of the most attractive and most talked about tourist events in Thailand.