Several important dates in modern Thai history happen to fall in October. The 23rd is Chulalongkorn Memorial Day, a public holiday declared to mark the legacy of King Rama V, the farsighted monarch credited with abolishing slavery and modernising many aspects of our society.
The work of ‘‘Italian engineer G. Bruno’’ (according to the official guidebook), Ladawan Palace was designed in the style of an Italian villa with some flourishes from the late Victorian period (1830-1901). A two-storey, brick-and-mortar structure with an octagonal, four-storey tower attached to one wing, it was built in the shape of an H with the slanting legs orientated from east to west. The total utility space is 1,800m2. It is fronted with a portico on top of which is an openair terrace. A variety of Western architectural and decorative techniques (including arches, pilasters, rustication and plaster mouldings) were employed. The wide corridors, big windows and large areas of greenery were intended to facilitate the flow of air and improve internal ventilation.
During his long reign King Chulalongkorn commissioned many fine buildings, their architecture, furnishings and landscaping often influenced by Western styles. Nowadays he is remembered in particular for the extensive additions he made to the royal riverside retreat at Bang Pa-in in Ayutthaya and for the stunning Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall at the periphery of the vast Dusit Palace complex in the Bangkok district of the same name.
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