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Phra Thihnang Anantasamahkom (พระที่นั่งอนันตสมาคม)

Thai. The Ananta Samahkom Hall (fig.), otherwise known as the Throne Hall in Bangkok (fig.), where the national legislature assembled, under the name National Assembly (fig.), until 1974, when it moved to the adjacent and then newly built Parliament House (fig.). It was originally built as a throne hall or coronation hall, but after the absolute monarchy was replaced by a constitutional monarchy in 1932, it was reassigned and taken into use by the state government. Its construction started after King Rama V considered that the former Ananta Samahkom Throne Hall, built earlier by King Rama IV within the compound of the Grand Palace and where in 1855 the Bowring Treaty was signed, was in poor condition and wouldn't last long, even after being renovated. He therefore decided to tear the throne hall down and build a new one in its place, on the eastern side of the Amphon Sathan Palace (fig.) in Dusit. Its cornerstone was laid on 11 November 1908, after the king had returned from a visit to Europe and the foundations of the building were already laid. King Rama V however, never saw its completion as he passed away on 23 October 1910, about five years before the building was completed, in late 1915. It is built in the Italian Renaissance architectural style and features a large dome at its centre (fig.). Underneath the dome is a balcony from where the King on certain occasions will greet his subjects, who then form a crowd onto Royal Plaza in front of the hall, and which features and equestrian statue of King Rama V (fig.). Inside, the magnificent gilded hall features marble pillars and hand painted ceilings, and there is a permanent exhibition of elaborately crafted artifacts, many that were presented to the royals as ceremonial gifts. The Throne Hall is a landmark building and is depicted on some fifty baht banknotes, and on several issues of Thai postage stamps, whereas the emblem of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority is a silhouette of the Throne Hall with four lightning bolts arched over its dome (fig.), perhaps a reference that electricity was introduced in Thailand when the Grand Palace (fig.) was decorated with lamps and illuminated on the occasion of the birthday on 20 September 1884, in order to convince the initially uninterested King Rama V of the benefits of this new energy. Also transliterated Phra Tihnang Anantasamahkom. See POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6) and (7), and MAP.