King Rama I Monument

(Phutthayotfa Chulalok)

Location :
Located at the base of Memorial Bridge, Wang Burapha Phirom, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok.
Age :
Built in 1932 during the reign of King Rama VII.
Type of Monument :
It is a registered monument, recorded in the 105th Thai Government Gazette, Article 188, Page 16.


In 1932, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the capital city, King Prajatipok had an initiative to build a memorial for the city’s founder, King Rama I. King Prajatipok stated in the government's official announcement on 25 February 1927, "It is appropriate for the people to celebrate the anniversary of the city. However, celebration does not leave glorious traces that will last for centuries. In this sense, there is nothing more pertinent than to build a monument that will last forever. I propose the construction of a monument commemorating King Phra Phutthayodfa Chulalok, the King who built this glorious city."
With respect to the style of the statue, Prince Narisara Nuwattiwong first proposed, "In the past, statues of Kings were built in a celestial fashion, earlier as Deva and in the later period as Buddha, like those of Phra Si Sanphet, King Phra Phutthayodfa Chulalok and King Phra Phutthaloetla Naphalai. But in this day and age, a royal statue built in that fashion would be outdated. Now, it would be more proper to build a statue of a King in his royal uniform, without specific connotations. This way, each person has their own interpretation, to look at the statue as a Deva or as a King, like what Westerners would call an allegory."
In one meeting, aside from the fashion in which the statue would be built, Prince Narisara Nuwattiwong also proposed that the statue be erected at Wat Suthat Thepwararam. Initially, there was no objection, only on the style of the statue. It seemed the location in which the monument would stand was set, but in ensuing meetings, some objections arose.
The final decision was King Prajatipok’s. He proposed that they also "build a bridge across the Chao Phraya River. Now is the right time, and waiting will only delay the matter to no end. As for the statue, it will be erected near the bridge."
For this reason, the construction of the King Rama I Monument and the Memorial Bridge (or Phra Phuttha Yodfa Bridge), which connected the old and new capitals (Thonburi and Bangkok respectively), began.
Led by Prince Bhanu Bandhu Vongsevoradej, the King Rama I Monument Committee was formed for the occasion. King Prajatipok spearheaded a fundraising campaign for the monument by contributing Bt2 million, and soon after donations poured in from the general public. The Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Transport were responsible for the construction of the bridge, which was designed by the Royal State Railways of Siam. The commission of the bridge, after a bidding process among many companies, went to a British firm, Dorman Long.
For the monument, Prince Narisara Nuwattiwong was responsible for the design and supervision of construction. He presented a sketch for King Prajatipok's consideration on 19 July 1929. With the King's approval, Professor Silpa Bhirasri (Corrado Feroci), an Italian sculptor, sculpted the clay original for the statue and shipped it to be molded in Italy. During this time, Thai craftsmen worked on the pedestal that would hold the statue.
The King Rama I Monument is located at the base of Memorial Bridge, at an intersection on the Bangkok river bank in Phra Nakhon. Backed by a facade, the statue gazes upon Phra Nakhon district, signifying his success in moving the capital city from Thonburi to Bangkok.
On 9 January 1929, King Prajatipok and Queen Rambai Barni visited the site to bless the construction of Memorial Bridge (also known as Phra Phuttha Yodfa Bridge). They visited once again on the day of the 150th anniversary of the city, on 6 April 1932, where King Prajatipok officially dedicated the King Rama I Monument and the bridge. After that, their Majesties crossed the bridge from Phra Nakhon to Thonburi, and then proceeded on the royal barge starting from the bridge, travelling up the Chao Phraya River, and disembarking at Ratchaworadit Pier before returning to Dusit Palace.
Now, 6 April of every year, known as Chakri Day, is officially recognised as the commemoration day of the monument.

Value and Significance

The monument commemorates the 150th anniversary of
the establishment of Bangkok in 1932.

Architectural and Artistic Features

The bronze statue sits atop a throne and is three times larger than life size. Donning the royal uniform, the King rests one hand on his sword, which is placed on his lap, and gazes upon Tri Phet Road. The full height of the monument is 4.60 metres (later raised an additional metre). The pedestal is 2.30 metres wide, with a marble base beneath it.
The facade behind the statue is made of marble. The middle part of the facade is carved out in a rectangle and features a granite slab, inscribed with the history of the construction. Two columns frame the inscriptions. The tympanum is decorated with a bas relief of garlands, and above it sits a unalom (a symbol representing reaching enlightenment). The facade was also made taller during the reconstruction of the monument.
There is a traditional offering in front of the statue, with a pair of flower trays and fountains. A concrete fence with round railing barricades surround the monument. At the centre sits an elaborate marble slab carved with an emblem of the King: an elephant in a Thai pattern. Two stairways lead up to the side of the statue, each abundantly decorated with flowers.

Preservation and Restoration

  • In 1962, the pedestal was made one metre taller.
  • At some stage, the facade behind the statue was also made taller. It is believed that this occurred in the same year as the restoration of the pedestal in 1962.

องค์พระบรมรูปหล่อด้วยทองสัมฤทธิ์ ขนาด 3 เท่าของพระองค์จริง ประทับนั่งเหนือพระที่นั่งกง ทรงเครื่องขัตติยาภรณ์ พระหัตถ์ทรงแตะพระแสงดาบที่วางทอดอยู่เหนือพระเพลา

ด้านหลังซุ้มเป็นแผ่นจารึกหินแกรนิตสีดำ จารึกความเป็นมาของการก่อสร้าง

ในปีพ.ศ. 2505 มีการเสริมแท่นอนุสาวรีย์ให้สูงขึ้นอีกประมาณ 1 เมตร และมีการเสริมซุ้มเบื้องหลังองค์อนุสาวรีย์ให้สูงขึ้น

แผ่นสลักเป็นรูปช้างหันข้างยืนเหนือแท่น ซึ่งเป็นตรา “ปฐมบรมราชจักรีวงศ์”
The monument sitting right in front of the facade when it was newly constructed.
Source: The 150th Anniversary of the Establishment of Bangkok Memoir
In 1962, the statue was relocated further forward from the facade and raised taller to heighten its majesty.

Other Information

In an article "When Bangkok is Facing Air Pollution" by senior historian Vara Rojanawipat, he wrote of the restoration:
"Initially, the statue sat right in front of the facade. But after the war, some experts commented that in other countries, statues are erected magnificently in an open space. This statue, however, sat in the inglorious shadow of the facade. So it was moved further forward, and a marble pedestal was built to hold it, with two flower trays in front just like today. Now, the statue sits taller than it previously did, which made the facade behind it seem disproportionately small. Some responsible organisation reconstructed the facade to be taller in order to co-ordinate with the raised statue.
"They raised the top part of the facade by adding a long block of marble. Initially, the facade was decorated in a golden Thai pattern to resemble the pattern of Thai cloth (kamkhab), not unlike what would be typically found in the Grand Palace. But when reconstructing the facade, the technicians didn't add the same pattern to the new part of the wall. They only placed the marble block, attached some metal prachamyam pattern in places, and nothing else. The slab of granite behind the statue, which was filled with gold inscriptions of the history of the bridge, also had the same empty space after the reconstruction. At first, technicians filled it with the same colour granite with no decoration. But once King Rama I was designated with the title "The Great (Maharaja)", they inscribed his newly appointed name in the space. The marble in front of the statue was removed altogether and gold leaves were gilded there carelessly. At the time, it was already possible to install mirror or mosaic tiles to fill the space. It is beyond my comprehension as to why they did not. So what is left is the remnant of irresponsibility that diminishes the glory of this monument."

Near by

Monument of King Taksin the Great Circle
4.6 (447)

Pig Memorial (Sahachart Memorial)
4.3 (56)

Monument to King Rama IV
4.8 (19)