one of Thailand's greatest historical sites. Record flooding has turned Ayutthaya's ancient temples into islands, and a giant statue of the reclining Buddha appears to float miraculously on the lapping water.
Experts fear that at least half of the more than 200 waterlogged monasteries, fortresses and other monuments in the one-time royal capital have been damaged.
Capital of a powerful state for 417 years, seat of 33 kings, Ayutthaya has been described as one of the greatest cities on water ever, with a canal network that measured more than 85 miles (140 kilometers). Built on the flood plain of central Thailand at the confluence of three rivers, it was inundated annually, but its citizens lived in stilt-raised houses and used boats for transport.
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Water also defended Ayutthaya, which once held as many as 1 million residents, until a brutal sacking by the Burmese in 1767 forced relocation of the capital to Bangkok, 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the south – where the same floodwaters that inundated Ayutthaya are now nearing the inner city.