Standing on a traffic island in the district of Ratchathewi, to the northeast of the centre of Bangkok, is the Victory Monument. Built in June 1941, during the reign of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadei, the monument honors Thai victory against the French colonial authorities in Indo-China. The colossal edifice is also a tribute to all the soldiers, police officers and civilians who sacrificed their lives in the service of their country. Such is the importance of the monument that when a foreign dignitary visits Thailand, it is a must for him to offer a wreath at the site. The structure, shaped of reinforced concrete and marble, soars 50 m high, in the form of five bayonets.
It follows a westernized architectural pattern and stands in striking contrast to the nearby Democracy Monument, which incorporates Thai forms and symbols in its designs. The central obelisk, with its tall and tapering stance, clasps the five bayonets and is distinctively Egyptian in style. Such monolithic structures are also seen in the various military monuments of the West, where the obelisk is the metaphor of a sword or the phallic symbol of masculine potency. Surrounding the base of the five bayonets are carved statues, representing army, navy, air force, police and civilians.
Designed by Italian sculptor Corrado Feroci, who later adopted the name Silpa Bhirasi, the bayonets have been shaped in typical western ‘heroic’ patterns, which were popular in fascist and communist states during the 1940’s. There are bronze plates under these statues, impressed with the names of people who lost their lives during the war. Even though, in 1945, Thailand had to return all the territories it had gained in 1941, to France, and the monument lost the military significance of its erection, yet till date, it remains one of the most eye-catching landmarks of Bangkok.