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The Old City Walls of Chiang Mai


Early picture of the Old City Walls

Very early photo of the Old City defensive walls and the moat.
Old City Chiang Mai Map
Copy of an early Map of Chiang Mai showing the Old City

Archives say That King Mengrai laid the original plans to build five gates around the walls of Chiang Mai. However, there's still no evidence that all 5 were constructed during his reign.

Local historians say that during the reign of King Tilokaraj (1441-1487), there were probably 6 city gates, two of which were built during the previous kings reign. Suan Hae Gate was built King Prachao Sam Fang Kaen ( 1402-1441), to enable his mother to visit the Grand Pagoda at Wat Chedi Luang as she lived outside the city walls Ban Suan Hae (the area where Suan Prung Hospital.

Suan Dok and Suang Prung Gates have since been restored; in fact all the gates have undergone structural changes in modern times.


Walls near the Thappae Gate
Recent photo's of old city
Thappae City Gate Walls

Old City Walls near Thappae Gate.

A research paper titled "The Ancient Community in Chiang Mai - Lamphun" written by Sarassawadee Ongdakul, states the outer city walls were built in the 16th - 17th Century. He said that the inner city was the political centre where the king and his family lived. The inner city was also where many Buddhist Temples were located such as Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Chiang Man. The area between the inner and outer city walls on the other hand, was where localo artisans and merchants lived, many of who were foreigners. Only Lanna Tai Yuan people were allowed to live in the inner walled area.

Today, there are five gates on the inner walls: Hua Wieng (Chang Phuak Gate): Chang Riek (Inner Thappae Gate): Tai Wieng (Chiang Mai Gate): Suang Prung Gate and Suan Dok Gate. Each corner of the city fortress, known as Jaeng, has a name too: Jaeng Hualin, Jaeng Sriphum, Jaeng Katem and Jaeng Khurueng.

The outer walls contained five gates: Chang Moi Gate; Outer Thappae Gate; Lai Kaeng Gate, Hua Ya Gate. There were also two fortresses (porn) on the walls: Porn Hua Moo in the north at Wat Saen Fang (which no longer exists), and Porn Hai Yai which is on the present-day Mahidol Road.

Local Chiang Mai people traditionally beleived that the city's guardian angels resided at each gate and corner, and they maintained the city's prosperity and fertility. Every year a ceremony was held to worship them.

Old City Walls showing one of the gates and the moat
One of the five city gates. This one is on the north side of the moat.

Like the fences around our homes today, the city walls were constructed to keep the city safe from danger. Though the walls were often destroyed and ruined during wars and invasions, many parts have been restored and are now an essential part of the Chiang Mai heritage and skyline.

Very old picture of an Old City Gate (probably Thappae Gate)
Very early photo of one of the Old City Gates
(probably Chiang Mai Gate)
Very early photo of an Old City Gate (probably Thappae)
Very early photo of what looks like Thappae Gate
(date unknown)

OJ Color Band

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