An increased number of Bangkok’s European embassies have once again opened their doors to the public in an effort to showcase the stunning architecture of their diplomatic missions and ambassadors’ residences, and to boost interest in European cultural heritage among those in Thailand.
In mid-September, five European embassies – those of the governments of the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands – joined forces to run an ‘open house’ weekend’ in which interested members of the public were invited to take a tour of various parts of the countries’ diplomatic compounds. The French Embassy has been known to participate on previous occasions, but this was the first time in recent years that embassies including that of the United Kingdom and Portugal have taken part.
The grand diplomatic residence of the French Ambassador on riverside Charoenkrung Soi 36 (also known as Rue de Rest), the Portuguese Ambassador’s residence on nearby Charoenkrung Soi 30, and those of the Belgian Ambassador on Silom Soi 3 and the British Ambassador on Phloen Chit’s Wireless Road, were all open for visits by members of the public in Bangkok, either on a walk-in basis or having made prior reservations for a limited number of slots. In addition, Baan Hollanda in the central Thai province of Ayutthaya – a museum and information centre on the history of Dutch-Thai relations, set on the site of a former Dutch trading post – opened its doors for an open day attended by the Dutch ambassador the governor of Ayutthaya.
The event in Bangkok is a reflection of the annual tradition for countless monuments and attractions across Europe to be opened up for public visits for a short period of time – many of these locations are closed to the public, or have restrictions on access, during the rest of the year. The strengthening and enlargement of the event among those countries’ embassies in Bangkok reflects a growing appetite for public engagement in and access to the historic sites used as the embassies’ diplomatic bases in Thailand.