The Grand Palace complex in Thailand’s capital Bangkok was established in 1782 and it consists of not only the royal residence and throne halls, but also a number of government offices as well as the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It covers an area of 218.000 square meters and is surrounded by four walls, 1.900 meters in length.
After King Rama I ascended to the throne in 1782, the palace was built. Prior to this, the royal palace and centre of administration had been located in Thonburi, on the west side of the Chao Phraya River. For various reasons, the new king considered the former capital to be unsuitable and decided to establish a new capital on the other side of the river.
By his royal command, a new palace was built to serve not only as his residence but also as the site of administrative offices. The royal compound has been known since then as the Grand Palace. The two earliest structures erected within the complex were the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall, and the Phra Maha Monthian.
The Emerald Buddha is enshrined on a golden traditional Thai-style throne made of gilded-carved wood, in the ordination hall of the royal monastery.
The sacred image is clad with one of the three seasonal costumes (summer, rainy season, and winter). The costumes are changed three times a year in a ceremony presided over by His Majesty the King. The Emerald Buddha is in fact carved from a block of green jade and was first discovered in 1434 in a stupa in Chiang Rai. At that time the image was covered with plaster and was thought to be an ordinary Buddha image. Later, however, the abbot who had found the image noticed that the plaster on the nose had flaked off, revealing the green stone underneath. The abbot initially thought that the stone was emerald and thus the legend of the Emerald Buddha image began.