The National Theatre or the Institution of Music and Theatre located in the old Front Palace. It was founded in 1965 as the stage for performing and other artistic-cultural related activities, and as the centre of international cultural exchange.
There are theatrical and musical performances all year long. You will find Classical music, and Special Series of Instrumental and Vocal Performances, such as the Nadta-Dontree series, the Kabh Kahn Wannakadee series, etc. You could also walk around the theater admiring the stuccos.
There is the life-sizememorial of King Pinklao, the second king of Siam in the period of King Rama IV in front of the National Theatre. Not far from the theater, located “The College of Dramatic Arts’ in the old Front Palace (Wan Na). You would find the ubosot, inside of which placed Buddha Sihingha as Phra Pratarn. There are distinctly beautiful murals by the master craftsmen of King Rama IV.
Phra Athit Road
From the National Theatre, you can continue to Phra Athit Road to explore the road that once were the site for noble man’s residences. Named after the Phra Arthit Fort which was built in the reign of King Rama I. Phra Athit Road starts from Thammasat University‘s gate (Phra Pinklao Bridge side), runs along the Chao Phraya River side to Phra Sumen Fort.
Long tail boat
By the way, there is a hidden riverside path running along the river starting from Phra Pinklao Bridge to Suan Santi Chai Prakan. The riverside path is in parallel of Phra Athit Road. If you can not find it, I suggest you ask local people to show you the path. I pretty much enjoy walking along the river in the morning and late afternoon and I bet you will enjoy it too.
Rama VIII Bridge
The building in the area were built in King Rama V’s period. Elites’ residences on the roadside are European style buildings, for example, Ban Chao Phraya and Ban Phra Athit, while commons’ houses are Chinese-style house rows.
Nowadays, the road is full of famous restaurants and bars. The most well known are Roti-Mataba, Vietnamese Noodle and beef soup noodle. Phra Athit Road is the location of Suan Santi Chai Praka. On the opposite side of Suan Santi, there is the old palace arc, the location of the shrine of Prince Chakra Chesada.
Next is “Trok Kai Chae,” the old community with cultural aspects from King Rama I’s period with a clean walk path and old charming wooden houses. Deep in the alley, you will find the old style ‘courtyard’, which leads to “Trok Khien Niwas” where there are people stitching Khon clothes in front of their houses.
Phra Sumen Fort
At the other end of the road, you will find a big ancient white fort locating in “Santi Chai Prakan Public Park.” It’s Phra Sumen Fort constructed in the reign of King Rama I. From there, you could view a beautiful riverscape and Phra Ram VIII Bridge.
The tranquil and freash air and plenty of relaxing spcae soothe people who come to exercie regularly. Artistic and cultural activities are continuously arranged. In the public park, there is a beautiful wooden pavillion with traditional Thai design. The pavillion is for river royal ceremony.
The last cork tree of Bang Lamphu once was standing here, before its demise in 2001 flood. Then, a new one was planted. Phra Sumen Fort is the only fort left from King Rama I’s reign. The fort is an octagon fort with graceful height. There is a rampart, gunner slot and armory, all of which are kept in original form.
The fort was registered as a national important historical site and it is the main attraction spot of the area. When I was young, I and my friends claimbed up there and used the fort as a play ground. Currently, entry is restricted.