In the past, the Grand Palace was the residence of the kings. King Rama I had it constructed during the establishment of Rattanakosin Kingdom. At first, there were only Phra Maha Prasat, Phra Maha Monthien, and Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), which is located inside the palace area like Wat Phra Sri Sanphet. Later, in the reign of King Rama IV and King Rama V, western culture had a big impact on Thai society, resulting in the mixture of western architectures in this place. At present, the Grand Palace is separated into two areas; the Temple of Emerald Buddha and the Court—the king’s residence and working place. Inside the Court, it is also divided into the Outer Court, the Middle Court, and the Inner Court.
Among the group of throne halls, the most important throne is Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat, formerly called Phra Thinang Intra Pisek Maha Prasat. It is the first throne in the palace and is a place housing the bodies of the former kings, queens, and their family. Many important royal ceremonies, including auspicious ceremonies and charitable ceremonies, are also held here. Another throne hall is Phra Thinang Aphorn Phimok Prasat where the king’s vehicles are kept. This is also where the king performs the ceremony of changing his regalia, together with the procession. The other throne hall is Phra Thinang Phiman Rattaya, constructed in 1789 during the reign of King Rama VI.
The king used this place as a residence and a meeting hall for his family members and his courtiers to be awarded with regalia and State orders and decorations. It is also a place where the bodies of the members of royal family are cleaned before housing the cinerary urns in Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat. As for Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat, it was built in 1876 during the reign of King Rama V. It was used for welcoming foreign dignitaries and heads of state. There are many more throne halls in this area; for example, Phra Thinang Rachakaranya Sapha, Phra Thinang Moon Satharn Borom Ard, Phra Thinang Borom Ratchasathit Mahoran, Phra Thinang Chakraphat Phiman, and Phra Thinang Phaisan Thaksin. Moreover, the northeast part of the Grand Palace houses Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram or Wat Phra Kaew. The monastery is used for performing important religious ceremony. It was built in 1784 and was restored in every reign of the kings in Chakri dynasty.
The chapel and the cloister display variety of spectacular mural paintings. This place enshrines not only Phra Phuttha Maha Mani Rattana Patimakon (the Emerald Buddha), Thailand’s respectable Buddha image, but also other beautiful objects with long history, such as Phra Prang Paed Ong (the eight colored Prangs), Phra Sri Rattana Chedi (the main stupa), miniature replica of Angkor Wat, and Prasat Phra Thep Bidon (Royal Pantheon). Finally, there is also the pavilion of regalia, royal decorations and coins. It is located on the right side before the entrance of the Inner court in the Grand Palace. There is the exhibition of coins and money used in Thailand, as well as regalia and royal decorations of the inner courtiers. The Grand Palace is open daily from 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.