Baan Wichayen was the residence of the French envoy that visited the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 17th century. The ruins of Baan Wichayen, also known as Vichayen House are found near King Narai’s Palace in the center of Lopburi town.
Surrounded by high walls, the large complex consists of several European style buildings constructed in the 17th century by King Narai the Great for the visiting French envoys. The residence was first known as “Ban Luang Rab Rat Thut”, which translates to “Royal House to receive dignitaries”.
King Narai the Great, King of Ayutthaya during the second half of the 17th century established intensive diplomatic relations with a number of European countries, especially France.
Built for the first French envoy in 1685
The first envoy to visit King Narai was Chevalier the Chaumont, the ambassador of King Louis XIV of France who visited King Narai and his advisor Constantine Phaulkon in 1685. A low relief sculpture in the Dusit Sawan Thanya Maha Prasat Throne Hall of King Narai’s Palace depicts Chevalier de Chaumont presenting a letter to King Narai at the Grand Palace in Ayutthaya in 1685.
It is believed that the Palace buildings were designed by Constantine Phaulkon. Phaulkon was a Greek adventurer who first came to Siam as a merchant and later became one of the most influential counselors of King Narai. Later the mansion became Phaulkon’s residence and was renamed after his title, Chao Phraya Wichayen. After Narai’s death, Phaulkon was executed by the next King because of rumors that he planned to become King himself.
Structures of Baan Wichayen
Baan Wichayen consists of several buildings in European style. The main buildings are the ambassadors mansion and the two storey houses where the foreign dignitaries lived. Over the doors and windows were intricate stuccoed decorations, some of which remain today. Semi circular steps lead to the building’s entrances. According to the accounts of the French envoys the residence was a place of splendor and magnificence.
Other structures on the grounds are the remains of a Roman Catholic church in European design with some Thai style elements, a bell tower and several storage buildings.
How to get to Baan Wichayen
Baan Wichayen is located on Thanon Wichayen in the old center of Lopburi town, a few hundred meters North of King Narai’s Palace and West of Phra Prang Sam Yot. From Lopburi train station, walk there (about 1 kilometer) or take a samlor bicycle taxi for around 40 Baht.
Opening hours & admission
Baan Wichayen opens Wednesday through Sunday from 7 am until 5 pm, except on Thai National Holidays. Admission is 50 Thai Baht per person. A combination ticket at 150 Baht is also valid for Phra Prang Sam Yot, King Narai’s Palace and Kraisorn Siharat throne hall.