The Phra Sumen Fort, located near the Khao San Road in Bangkok, is one of the few remaining parts of the fortifications which were built when Bangkok first became the capital city of Thailand.
About Phra Sumen Fort
Following the destruction of Ayutthaya and then the fall of the Thonburi Kingdom, Bangkok became the capital city of Thailand in 1782.
Rattanakosin Island in Bangkok
The original city was confined within an area which is known as the Rattanakosin Island which is where many of Bangkok’s historic buildings, such as the Grand Palace, are located. The area is known as an island because of the Chao Phraya River on one side and a canal constructed for defensive purposes on the other.
Defensive Walls and Forts
These boundaries of water were supplemented by a defensive wall and 14 forts. Two of those forts remain intact, one of which is the Phra Sumen Fort. The reason why Bangkok was created as a fortified city is because at the time Thailand faced threats from invading armies from neighbouring countries, particularly Burma whose forces had destroyed the old capital of Ayutthaya only 15 years earlier. As it happened no invasion attempts were made, the forts were never used in combat, and left to decay or dismantled for use in building other things.
Design of the Phra Sumen Fort
The Phra Sumen Fort is an octagonal structure which is 45 metres in diameter, and has three levels rising to a height of 10.5 metres. The fort is designed to house canon and men with guns behind battlements to stop an attack from invaders on ships. The small size of the fort makes it less capable of withstanding an assault from forces on the ground, as the fort could not accommodate enough men and food to hold out during a siege and the walls are low making it easy for ground based forces to simply climb into the fort.
Another feature of the fort is that its design and even it name incorporates Buddhist religious symbolism. Phra Sumen is the Thai name for Mount Meru, which in Hindu cosmology is the mountain in the centre of the universe where the Gods reside. Another religious related feature of the fort are its curiously shaped upper battlements which are pointed on top. This shape is the same as the sema stones which are placed around ordination halls in Buddhist temples in Thailand.
Location of Phra Sumen Fort
- Phra Sumen Fort is located 12 km by road from Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal.