Thai History: A Short history of the Democracy Monument, Bangkok

In the local language, it’s called Anusawari Prachathipatai. English-speaking visitors to Bangkok, call it the Democracy Monument. Thailand’s monument to democracy is outstanding. Graceful, impressive and majestic are words which come to mind. It isn’t so much a monument as a collection of monuments. You can see evidence of both traditional and modern architecture here. It marks the country’s transition from absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. To appreciate the monument, it’s necessary to come as close as possible to it. But that’s not easy to do. The Democracy Monument is on a busy crossroads. You’ll find it on Ratchadamnoen Klang Road in Bangkok. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to go inside. There is a fence around it. Still, it’s an architectural wonder. Tourists may view from a distance.

How the Monument came to Be

The government build it in 1939 to remember the 1932 Revolution. The designer was the Thai architect Mew Aphaiwong. The sculptures are the work of Italian-born Silpa Bhirasri. He was born as Corrado Feroci. He came to Thailand to teach his art. He fell in love with the country and became a Thai citizen. Thailand’s then military ruler, Field Marshall Phibun Songkhram had dreams for the nation. One was that the Democracy Monument would host some magnificent military parades. When the government built the monument, they widened the road. The Democracy Monument is a mixture of Thai and European style. It shows the Thai Constitution, guarded by four wings. These wings represent the four armed forces of the nation. These are the police, the army, the navy and the air force.

The Democracy Monument Today

It seems strange that the Democracy Monument appeared during a dictatorship. Thailand has never had democracy in the sense the world understands it. The Democratic Monument doesn’t mention the monarchy. The King still plays an important role in Thai public life. But the Democracy Monument represents the dreams of the 1932 Revolutionaries. They started an era of constitutional monarchy. It has also been the scene of peaceful political protests. It is worth seeing.

Photo: Marcin Konsek / Wikimedia Commons

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