By Eric Lim
Government House Bangkok, the center of state administration, can't fail to catch the eye of a visitor passing Phisanulok Road on the way to the Royal Plaza and Dusit Garden.
The majestic palace-like structure is a harmonious blend of Venetian Gothic architecture and Thai design on grounds spread over 11 acres. A golden dome housing a statue of Brahma sits atop the roof.
The pillars in the façade of the main building bear a close resemblance to the gilded columns of Palazzo Ca'd'Oro (Palace of Gold) built in Venice in the early 15th century by the Grand Canal.
Early 19th century visitors to Bangkok have called the city, "Venice of the East." They couldn't have foreseen then that by the 1920s, the similarities went beyond the canals.
In 1923, King Rama VI commissioned Annibale Rigotti, one of the Italian architects responsible for the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall to design the building. Originally known as Ban Norasingh, the building was meant as the family residence of Chao Phraya Ram Raghop, a favorite general.
The family residence was sold to the government under Field Marshall Phibun Songkhram in 1941 and became the office of the Prime Minister and the reception hall for foreign guests. The move was made to preempt the Japanese government from acquiring the building for their embassy.
Another Italian, this time Corrado Feroci the famous sculptor and artist, renowned for his monuments in Bangkok, completed the decorations and renovations from 1942 – 1946.
Under the premierships of Field Marshall Phibun Songkhram and later Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat in 1957, additional buildings were added to the grounds of Government House.
The main building was officially designated as Government House in 1963. It now houses the offices of the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, conference rooms and state function rooms.
Royal guests……Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers have graced the grand halls within. For the rest of us, we'll just have to be content with admiring this architectural masterpiece from beyond the walls.
Open House on Children’s Day
The only time members of the public are allowed into Government House is on National Children’s Day in Thailand on the second Saturday in January every year. On this day the grounds and the buildings are open to the public
On 9 January 2010 I decided to go and take these photos. A huge carnival was in full swing when I arrived.
Others prefered to relax in the shadow of this impressive creation by Annibale Rigotti.
Or take an opportunity to pose for memorable shots like these.
The highlight of the visit was entering the grand interior of the building.
The Prime Minister’s Office was open to the public and visitors were welcome to his seat, just for a photograph. I passed.
Located at the junction of Phisanulok and Nakhon Pathom Roads just south of Dusit Garden, the building housing the seat of government is an attractive landmark in the area, brilliantly lit up at night to highlight the sheer grandeur of the Italian masters.
Map to Government House
How to get there
Government House is in Phisanulok Road in the Dusit district, Bangkok, an area steeped in history with several royal palaces, past and present.
However, the official address is Nakhon Pathom Road that's perpendicular to Phisanulok Road.
Phisanulok Road is an extension of Petchaburi Road that comes from the Pratunam junction.
There're no skytrain or subway services here. The following air-conditioned bus services pass the place
No. 16 from Surawongse Road – Siam Square
No. 50 from Lumphini Park – Mah Boon Krong
No. 505 from Lumphini Park - Central World Plaza – Pratunam
For security reasons, Government House is closed to the public except on Children's Day. You can admire and photograph the building from outside the fence though.
For the other works of the Italian Architects in Bangkok.