Metro Manila · Old Manila
The old center of Metro Manila breathes history: churches and old universities built during the Spanish era, neoclassical government buildings and wide boulevards from the American Commonwealth period, and monuments for the national heroes of a finally independent Philippines.
World War II and poor urban planning in post-war times unmistakably left their mark on old Manila, and many of the remaining historical buildings in the area are in bad condition. The Global Heritage Fund identified Intramuros, the walled city in the center of Old Manila, as one of the 12 worldwide sites "on the verge" of irreparable loss and destruction.
Nonetheless, Old Manila gives unique insights in the history and culture of the Philippines, whether you want to admire precolonial or modern art in the National Museum, take a Calesa ride through the cobblestone streets of Intramuros, or visit the Manila Hotel suite in which General McArthur resided before the war. On top of that, Old Manila has beautiful hotels and souvenir shops, making it a place every traveler to the Philippines should visit.
The fortified city of Intramuros was built during Spanish colonial times to protect the seat of government. Located along Manila Bay near the southern bend of the Pasig River, Intramuros’ location was very strategic for trade and for defense. Today, museums and old buildings bring centuries of Philippine history back to live, making Intramuros one of the top tourist spots.
A popular open park located right smack in the middle of the Philippine capital, Rizal Park is also known to both locals and tourists as Luneta – a Spanish term that translates to lunette or crescent.
The museum Casa Manila gives a detailed impression of upper-class life and style back in Spanish colonial times. However, the house is not an authentic relic, but a replica built in the 1980s.
San Agustin Museum in the walled city of Manila sits right beside San Agustin Church --a popular venue for church weddings in the country. Exploring the museum for a small fee can be a delightful way to look back in time and learn more about Philippine heritage, history, and art.
Want to learn more about Philippine art, culture, and history? The National Museum offers all of it and you don't have to pay a single centavo to get in! The National Museum consist of the National Museum of the Filipino People, the National Art Gallery, and the National Planetarium. All three buildings are located within walking distance in Manila. The National Museum also operates regional museums all over the Philippines.
Manila Hotel is the oldest high-class hotel in the Philippines. Experience high end Filipino hospitality and get a taste of history here.
Located inside Manila’s walled city Intramuros is a quaint antique and crafts shop called Silahis (sun’s rays), The shop, established in the late 1960s, is dedicated to a “better understanding of the Filipino people” by collecting and selling arts and crafts from different parts of the country.
Chinese-Filipinos Ivan Man Dy and Anson Yu let tourists and locals experience more of Manila's rich historical past through engaging and fun walking tours of its storied quarters.
Guided city tours seem boring and exhausting, especially in the hardly pedestrian-friendly City of Manila? The theatrical tours of artist and notorious cultural activist Carlos Celdran prove the opposite.
The Manila Collectible in Intramuros is more than just a shop for souvenirs and handicraft. It is a "Culturespace" that offers handmade products from all over the Philippines as well as workshops, events, and tours to promote the rich cultural heritage of the country.
Luneta Hotel is one of Manila's most beautiful and historical structures, built in 1918. Designed by the Spanish architect-engineer Salvador Farre, the belle epoque structure was once described as reminiscent of French Renaissance architecture with Filipino stylized beaux arts. It used to be home to local politicians, celebrities, expats and diplomats including former US President Dwight Eisenhower during its heyday. An important architecture of its time, its walls have kept many secrets, tragedies, triumphs, and stories of dalliances from its high-profile guests.
Best Western Hotel La Corona Manila is located in one of the oldest districts of the capital. Best Western’s Ermita location offers affordable accommodation and easy access to Manila’s heritage sites. This hotel got Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2014.
On Manila Day, Manila City celebrates its foundation on June 24, 1571. Schools, government bureaus, and private offices are closed on this special non-working holiday, and Manileños enjoy the free time in parks and malls.