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Lopburi is considered to be one of Thailand’s oldest cities, dating from the Dvaravati per­iod (6th to 11th centuries) when Lopburi was called Lavo. When the Khmer kingdom expanded into present-day Thailand in the 10th century, Lavo became a frontier hub for the empire and was filled with the Khmer’s signature architectural monuments, including Prang Khaek (Shiva Shrine), San Phra Kan (Kala Shrine), Prang Sam Yot (Three Spired Shrine) and the tower at Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat – many of which remain in various states today.

Power over Lopburi was wrested from the Khmers in the 13th century as the Sukhothai kingdom to the north grew stronger, but the Khmer cultural influence remained to some extent throughout the Ayuthaya period. King Narai fortified Lopburi in the mid-17th century to serve as a second capital when the kingdom of Ayuthaya was threatened by a Dutch naval blockade. His palace in Lopburi was constructed in 1665 and he died there in 1688.