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Article by - Your travel partner in Indochina, Myanmar and Thailand.

In the 15th century, the city of Sukhothai was absorbed into the kingdom of Ayutthaya and abandoned; forgotten until it was rediscovered again in the early 20th century.

In 1238, two Thai princes defeated the Khmer at Sukhothai and established the first kingdom of the Thais there. For the next 150 years, the citywas home to nine kings and a period of territorial conquests and cultural growth through the adoption of Theravada Buddhism from Sri Lanka, and a golden age of political, social and artistic growth.

This period saw the establishment of traditions that still endure today: the creation of the Thai script attributed to the ancient city's most revered king, Ramkhamhaeng, a new concept of monarchy that did not elevate the king to god-like status but made him more accessible, and stylised and graceful statues that captured the Buddha inmovement, with his arm swinging freely and the heel of one foot raised.

What's left today is the 70 square kilometre Sukhothai Historical Park, mostly ruins of a great past; crumbling walls of the grand palace once decorated in stucco, ruined columns and missing sections of the city walls. There are also perfectly preserved life-sized Buddha images, the lotusshaped chedi ofWat Mahathat, four gorgeous ponds filled with pink and white lotus flowers, and artefacts safely guarded at the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, all under UNESCO's protection as aWorld Heritage Site.

Twelve kilometres away is the new city of Sukhothai, an unassuming place of markets and friendly locals notable for its location near the old city of Sukhothai and accommodating number of guest houses.

Wat Mahathat

The largest and grandest monument within the Sukhothai National Park, Wat Mahathat is surrounded by a brick wall and protective moat and decorated with a Khmer prang, or tower, Singhalese stupas and a distinct Sukhothai bud tower.

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