Among the most intriguing royal structures in Bangkok are the mansions of the Bank of Thailand.
Story by Luc Citrinot
The Bank of Thailand Museum features a grand villa complex in Bang Lamphu District that faces the Chao Phraya River. King Rama V built the Bang Khun Phrom Palace to serve as a residence for Prince Paribatra Sukhumband. The structure has a unique blend of multiple European styles.
Tamnak Yai, designed in 1906 by Italian Mario Tamagno, is reminiscent of baroque, rococo and classical European styles with large windows underlined by elegant stuccos. Tamnak Yai offers an extravagant interior with stucco ceilings, velvet curtains and frescos painted by Carlo Rigoli. The main showpiece is a grand staircase with marble stairs reminding one of palaces in Austria or South Germany.
Tamnak Somdej is a mansion in a completely different style, a masterpiece of the German architect Karl Döhring, who was famous for the Jugendstil style in Germany between 1890 and 1910. The residence has a vast symmetrical façade. Prince Paribatra offered the palace to his mother, Queen Sukhumala Marasri, as her residence in 1913.
The third palace commemorated the marriage of Prince Paribatra and Princess Prasongsom Chaiyant in 1903. It was later dismantled and rebuilt inside the Vimanmek Mansion complex.
Devavesm Palace, built by British architect Edward Healey, served as the residence of King Rama V’s younger brother, Prince Devawongvarophakarn. It features a neoclassical façade with magnificent Greek columns and is not always open to the public. Since 1945, Khun Phrom Palace has served as the headquarters of the Bank of Thailand.
The museum was inaugurated in 1993 by the late King Rama IX. Visitors will find ancient Chinese coins, Siam’s first currencies made of seashells or ‘Bia,’ currencies used in the Dvaravati and Srivijaya kingdoms, and the first modern coins and notes. There are rooms, including apartments, dedicated to Prince Paribatra Sukhumband.
BANK OF THAILAND MUSEUM
273 Samsen Rd (next to King Rama VIII Bridge)
Tel: 02 283 5286, 02 283 6152, 02 283 6723
Email: [email protected]
Open: Tue-Sun 10 am – 4 pm, closed on Monday and public holidays