Nowhere else in the country does the guest get more insights into the multifaceted culture of the Philippines in a short time. In the vibrant metropolis of Manila, the contrasts of the country become clear. The streets are teeming with colorful jeepneys, buses and sleek cars. In the older parts of Manila, such as Intramuros (Old Town) and China Town, horse-drawn carts clatter along the streets, making their way through the traffic.
Metro Manila – that’s also modern high-rises of glass and concrete right next to old Spanish colonial houses and neoclassical government buildings. Outside the air-conditioned malls, street vendors haggle and hustle amid the crowds. The glitz and gaiety of the markets are just steps away from the peaceful greenery of the parks and the silence of the churches.
Tip 1: Fort Santiago
Before the Spanish army took the island nation, the Muslim king Rajah Sulayman ruled the country in the 16th century. On his former estate, Fort Santiago was built by the Spanish. It is very massive: the outer walls alone are 22 meters high and the entrance to the fort is incredibly grandiose.
After the Spanish-Chinese War, the British invasion, as well as World War II, the fort is now a magnificent museum. The houses in this area have been extensively renovated and you can even follow the life of the nationwide national hero José Rizal here.
Tip 2: Quiapo Church
Quiapo is a district of Manila City and is famous for its many stores where you can buy electronic items and handicrafts at very low prices. The heart of Quiapo is Plaza Miranda, a time-honored public square in front of Quiapo Church, which is used for a variety of political, social and cultural events.
The magnificent Quiapo Church, also called St. John the Baptist Church, became famous for the “Black Nazarene,” a 400-year-old crucifix made of black wood. Many Catholics come to the church daily to pray here.
Tip 3: Rizal Park
Rizal Park is probably the most important sight in Manila – and you’ll soon know why. There have been settlements in the park since the Middle Ages. However, they were destroyed again and again. Later, the swampy ground had to be drained, creating a promenade. At its end was a meeting place for executions. Among others, the famous GOMBURZA priests and the poet and national hero José Rizal lost their lives there. For this reason, the park was named after Rizal and a monument was erected to him.
Not only the history of the park is exciting, but also the buildings located there. Among them is the Lapu-Lapu monument, which commemorates the Prince of Mata-an. He is said to have become a national hero in the fight against the Spanish sailors. In addition, there is a brilliant butterfly house, the Ocean Park, a planetarium and two exciting Philippine museums and the National Library. You can spend a whole day in Rizal Park without getting bored for a second! The offer is completed by a Chinese and a Japanese garden. Both are wonderful places to relax – sometimes you need to do that after a long sightseeing tour!
Tip 4: Manila Cathedral
It stands within the old Spanish settlement walls in Intramuros on Manila Bay. It has been destroyed and rebuilt six times. It was the seat of the Archbishop of Manila during the Spanish colonial period and is still the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila and one of the most important churches in the Philippines. In 1578 the cathedral was built and already in 1581 it saw the first bishop of the Philippines, Domingo de Salazar (b.1512).
As early as 1582, the church was damaged for the first time by a typhoon. Further destructions followed. The present form dates back to 1958. It was elevated to the status of Basilica Minore by Pope John Paul II. The cathedral houses the mortal remains of former prelates who had served the archdiocese.
Tip 5: National Museum
The most important museum in the Philippines covers a wide range of topics. The focus is on art, culture and ethnography of the country. In addition, there is archaeology, botany, zoology and astronomy. The exhibitions provide insight into the development of the country and its inhabitants. Relics from early culture to contemporary art paint a vivid picture of the country’s culture.
The art collection begins in the 18th century and extends to the present day. Works by famous artists such as Juan Luna or Fernando Amorsolo are not to be missed.