Let’s begin the story with our neighbore, the Portuguese Embassy. Remember the wall out front housing a large mural by the Portuguese graffiti artist Vhils? Behind that wall is a plot of land extending to the Chao Phraya River that Rama II let the Vietnamese Emperor Gia Long use as a temporary refuge.
After the fall of Ayutthaya, the Portuguese were the first Westerners to try to re-establish trade relations and Siam needed arms and munitions to protect its borders. To encourage such trade, Rama II offered the same land to Portugal to use as a trading port and consulate. Our neighbor was the first Western foreign consulate in the Rattanakosin era.
The first Consul of Portugal to Thailand was Carlos de Manuel Silveira. King Rama II favored him with a title equal to a Thai nobleman. He played his diplomatic role well, welcoming all newcomers to Siam, even the Protestant missionaries, whereas others viewed them with suspicion and even hate. The diplomatic palace standing here today was built in the mid 1860s blending Thai elements with Portuguese colonial style.