Fascinating Historic Places to Visit in Manila

Exploring Manila's Rich Cultural Heritage: A Guide to Its Historic Places

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Manila by exploring its most fascinating historic places. From ancient ruins to colonial-era landmarks, this guide will help you discover the city's top attractions and iconic sites.

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Rizal Park

Monument in Manila's Rizal Park

Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is a must-visit historical landmark in Manila and a beloved leisure spot for locals.

Spanning a vast area adjacent to the old walled city of Intramuros, the park boasts ornamental gardens, tranquil ponds, and paved walking paths, as well as a collection of monuments dedicated to the great Filipino hero, José Rizal.


Entrance of the Intramuros Manila

Intramuros, meaning “within the walls,” is the heart of historic Manila and home to several Spanish-era landmarks such as Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, and Casa Manila. Built by the Spaniards in the 16th century, the 8-foot thick, 22-foot high walls were erected as a defense against foreign invaders.

Despite surviving many attacks, the walled city was destroyed during the Battle of Manila in WWII. The remaining five original gates have since been restored or rebuilt, allowing visitors to step back in time and explore this important part of Manila’s heritage.

San Agustin Church

Exterior of San Agustin Church in Manila's Intramuros

San Agustin Church, located within the historic walled city of Intramuros, is the oldest church in the Philippines, built between 1587 and 1606.

It miraculously survived the destruction of Intramuros during the Battle of Manila in WWII, and stands today as a National Historical Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Quiapo Church

Tourists visiting the old Quiapo Church in Manila

The Quiapo Church, also known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, is a significant Roman Catholic church located in Manila’s Quiapo District. The basilica houses the Black Nazarene, a dark statue of Jesus Christ carrying the cross, believed by many to be miraculous.

The statue was carved in Mexico during the early 1600s and was transported to the Philippines by a Spanish galleon before it was finally enshrined in the Quiapo Church in the late 1700s. During Holy Week, thousands of Catholic devotees participate in the Grand Procession of the Black Nazarene.

The Quiapo Church is constantly bustling with devotees, especially on Fridays, as they kneel before the crucifix, seeking divine intervention or forgiveness.

National Museum

Exterior of Manila's National Museum

When in Manila, make sure to visit the National Museum, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of the Philippines.

The museum boasts an extensive collection, featuring everything from ethnographic and anthropological artifacts to archaeological finds and works of art. Best of all, admission is now free for all visitors, making it a great opportunity to explore this rich and diverse collection.

Fort Santiago

Entrance of Fort Santiago in Intramuros Manila

Fort Santiago is a historic citadel constructed between 1589 and 1592 by the Spanish for territorial defense. Overlooking the Pasig River, it is situated within the walled city of Manila, known as Intramuros.

A traditional way to tour Fort Santiago is by taking a Kalesa ride, a horse-drawn carriage that provides a unique and leisurely way to explore the fortress.

Casa Manila

A courtyard of Historical Casa Manila inside Intramuros

Casa Manila, a stunning replica of a Spanish colonial house, provides a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the 19th century Philippines. Situated in the heart of Manila’s historic district, Intramuros, the house was commissioned by Imelda Marcos to showcase the exquisite architecture and interior design of the Spanish period.

Inside, the museum houses a collection of authentic antique furniture and artwork from the colonial era, offering visitors a fascinating insight into the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Chinese Cemetery

Old tomb in the Chinese Cemetery in Manial

The Chinese Cemetery in Manila, established after Chinese nationals were prohibited from being buried in Catholic cemeteries during the Spanish colonial period, is the city’s second oldest cemetery after La Loma Cemetery.

Unlike traditional cemeteries, it resembles a residential neighborhood, with streets adorned with elaborate mausoleums. To explore the cemetery and visit the most impressive tombs, renting a bicycle is the ideal mode of transportation.

Manila Hotel

Opulent lobby at the Manila Hotel

The Manila Hotel is a landmark historic hotel situated along the scenic Manila Bay. It was inaugurated on July 4, 1912, to celebrate American Independence. Its grand lobby is perfect for enjoying aperitifs or a traditional Filipino Afternoon Tea.

The hotel’s restaurant offers impeccable service and luxurious decor, making it the perfect spot for a fine dining experience.

Guests can choose from a variety of room categories, ranging from comfortable deluxe rooms to opulent suites, for a memorable stay at the Manila Hotel.