Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is located on Manila Bay of Luzon Island, which is one of the 7,000 islands that form this country. Just like many capitals of the world, Manila is composed of a blend of the old and the new. The Spanish Colonial era is depicted in the various Roman Catholic churches, museums, and structures to show the public just how far the Philippines have come. These buildings that have been established since the 16th century are surrounded by hundreds of years of growth so be sure to learn all about this journey in the museums located in Rizal Park and so forth. We always love to begin exploring a city with the history before diving into the amazing recent innovations so below we have compiled a list of places where to start.
This fort was established in 1593 by Spanish conquistador, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi as a way to break in the new land he had conquered. Jose Rizal, a nationally recognized Philippine who was responsible for the Filipino Propaganda Movement that jump started political reforms of the Spanish colonization, was imprisoned here until he was killed in 1896. Today, the Rizal Shrine museum is available to visit to see all of Rizal’s remembrances. This historical site is one of the most important places to see when you visit the Philippines and that’s why it’s first on our list.
Next, we have another important portion of history that is one of the most visited in all of the Philippines. This park was renamed after Jose Rizal was executed which ultimately began the Philippine Revolution against the Kingdom of Spain. This day of history is recognized here with a monument with Rizal’s remains and his bronze statue. The park is located by the Manila Bay and is the ground for many other of the city’s main attractions.
National Museum of the Philippines
The National Museum of the Philippines is actually a government organization that oversees a compiled group of museums for the Philippines as a whole: the National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Anthropology, Natural Museum of Natural History, and National Planetarium. There are also sister branches of these government regulated museums all over the Philippines. For the history, fine art, and lovers of learning, this will be an amazing experience of museum hopping at the infamous Rizal Park.
Manila Ocean Park
Manila Ocean park is a massive aquarium that is actually located at Rizal Park so you can visit both of these in one swing. With about 14,000 residents of oceans life and 280 species that specifically comes from the Southeast Asia regions, you will be floored by how insane our oceans are! There are several attractions, exhibitions and live shows that the whole family can enjoy.
Statue of the Sentinel Freedom
Here is yet another important Manila attraction that is found at Rizal Park, the Statue of Sentinel Freedom. This 12-meter-tall bronze statue is dedicated to Lapu-Lapu, who was the first well known native Filipino that resisted against the Spanish Colonization in 1521. Once you stop by to see Rizal’s monument head down Lapu-Lapu’s statue that lies in between the Natural Museum of Natural History and National Museum of Anthropology.
The Manila Cathedral
The Manila Cathedral or otherwise known as the Minor Basilica & Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is located within the Intramuros walls that were established during the Spanish Colonial Period in 1571. The Manila Cathedral was consecrated in 1581 and is mainly recognized for the three papal visits of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Francis. In 1981, Pope John Paul II issued a papal bull Quod Ipsum to this Cathedral in order to declare it as a minor basilica. Inside of the Intramuros walls you can visit other Roman Catholic churches of this same time period to get a true sense of the Spanish Colonial period.
Cultural Center of the Philippines
The Cultural Center of the Philippines is also a government run institution that preserves cultural artifacts and remains for the entire country. At the Manila Bay location, you will be able to explore the several exhibitions and preservations of Filipino art and culture as well as, the amazing performances and year round festivals held in the theaters. If you so happen to visit more of the Philippines, you will be able to visit these cultural centers throughout the country.
Ayala Triangle Gardens
The Ayala Triangle Gardens is a beautiful green space, in the form of a triangle, that is located within the Makati Business Center District. This garden was first and foremost inspired by the infamous Hyde Park in London. Come by this lovely patch of nature in the middle of Manila to have lunch after a Saturday morning of visiting the Salcedo Saturday Market to grab fresh local foods!
Prestige – SM Mall of Asia Branch
The Mall of Asia is a large shopping mall that is incredibly popular for the vast amount of stores and department stores, the IMAX theater with Lay-Z-Boy seats, an Olympic sized skating rink, and more. If you decide to enjoy any of these amenities, be sure to at least visit the SM by the Bay Amusement park to ride the ferris wheel!
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