The Grand Palace (Thai: พระบรมมหาราชวัง, RTGS: Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang) is a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782. The king, his court and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. The present monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), currently resides at Chitralada Palace, but the Grand Palace is still used for official events. Several royal ceremonies and state functions are held within the walls of the palace every year.
Construction of the palace began on 6 May 1782, at the order of King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I), the founder of the Chakri Dynasty, when he moved the capital city from Thonburi to Bangkok. Throughout successive reigns, many new buildings and structures were added, especially during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). By 1925 the king, the Royal Family and the government were no longer permanently settled at the palace, and had moved to other residences. After the abolition of absolute monarchy in 1932 all government agencies completely moved out of the palace.
The Wat Phra Kaew (Thai: วัดพระแก้ว, RTGS: Wat Phra Kaeo, IPA: [wát pʰráʔ kɛ̂ːw], Pronunciation, English: Temple of the Emerald Buddha; full official name Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram, Thai: วัดพระศรีรัตนศาสดาราม, IPA: [wát pʰráʔ sǐː rát.ta.náʔ sàːt.sa.daː.raːm]) is regarded as the most sacred Buddhisttemple (wat) in Thailand. It is a "potent religio-political symbol and the palladium [safeguard] of Thai society". It is located in the historic centre of Bangkok (district Phra Nakhon), within the precincts of the Grand Palace.
The main building is the central ubosoth, which houses the statue of Emerald Buddha. The legendary history of this Buddha image is traced to India, five centuries after the Lord Buddha attained Nirvana, till it was finally enshrined in Bangkok at the Wat Phra Kaew temple in 1782 during Rama I's reign (1782–1809). This marked the beginning and raise of the Chakri Dynasty of the present Kingdom of Thailand (the present head of the dynasty is King Rama IX.) The Emerald Buddha, a dark green statue, is in a standing form, about 66 centimetres (26 in) tall, carved from a single jade stone (Emerald in Thai means deep green colour and not the specific stone). It is carved in the meditating posture in the style of the Lanna school of the northern Thailand. Except for the Thai King, no other person is allowed to touch the statue. The King changes the cloak around the statue three times a year, corresponding to the summer, winter, and rainy seasons, an important ritual performed to usher good fortune to the country during each season.