2018 is a very meaningful year for Thailand and Portugal. The official bilateral relationship between the two nations, which was initiated way back in the Ayutthaya period, has come into its 500th anniversary—the longest Thailand has ever had with a European nation.
Five centuries of friendship—without dissolution—has had its implications on both countries. You still find traces of Portuguese culture in Thai society, from food and drinks to language and architecture.
The shophouses spread across the old town flaunt architecture partially inspired by Sino- Portuguese culture. Behind the Grand Palace walls, patrons visiting Great and Good Friends, the exhibition that embodies the 200th-year celebration of Thailand-USA relations, will notice that the first letter to mark the official beginning of the bilateral relationship was written in Portuguese, the official foreign language in the Thai royal court during that time (long before English was widely learned in Thailand).
Many Thai egg yolk-based desserts—from foi thong to thong yod—are closely related to Portuguese sweets. Then there’s the popular egg tart, a Portuguese-born snack that arrived in Thailand via Macau. Not to mention, many Thai words are “borrowed” or "reinterpreted" from the Portuguese language.
A little bit of Portugal surrounds you—and maybe is even in you. And it’s time you became aware of it.
The first Portugal trading ship arrived in Ayutthaya. Trading began.
The first official trading and friendship treaty between Portugal and Siam was signed, followed by Portugal advancing the herb trade, supplying guns and bullets for the Siamese court, building silos, and propagating Christianity. The treaty was the first formal agreement between Siam and a European country.
A group of Catholics from Ayutthaya, inclusive of those with Portuguese blood, settled down in Bangkok.
The first Imaculée Conception church was erected.
The dissolution of Ayutthaya kingdom.
King Taksin erected Thonburi. He also provided the Portuguese with a piece of land on the left bank of Chao Phraya River, where Santa Cruz Church was erected. This was soon followed by the enlargement of the Kudeejeen community.
Establishment of the Portuguese consulate in Bangkok.
The current Imaculée Conception church was erected.