The most densely populated city in the world, Manila is one of South East Asia’s most bustling metropolises. Manila is known for its extensive history, particularly its importance to the Spanish Empire and its important role during the Allied conflict with the Japanese during the Second World War. Unshackled from the burdens of domination by colonial powers for many decades, the capital city is a cultural melting pot with a distinct convergence of Asian, Spanish and American influences.
One of Manila’s most recognisable landmarks, Fort Santiago is a major relic of the Spanish Conquistadors. Built under the instruction of Conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi at the end of the 16th Century, Fort Santiago functioned as a defensive fortification and a prison for many centuries, becoming known as a major battleground during a number of conflicts. In modern times, the building has since been converted into a museum-the Rizal Shrine, which houses well-preserved buildings from the Spanish Colonial Period.
San Agustin Church
Manila, and the Philippines in general, is well-known for its collection of Baroque churches, and San Agustin Church is the city’s crowning achievement in this regard. There has been a church on the grounds since the end of the 16th Century although the current building was completed at the beginning of the 18th Century. In addition to its religious significance, the church has played a major background role in a number of important episodes of the country’s history, most notably as a concentration camp during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during the Second World War.
La Loma Cemetery
The city’s oldest cemetery, built in 1884, the La Loma Cemetery was notably one of the last major architectural sites, which emerged unscathed following the Battle of Manila in 1945. The cemetery is the burial ground to a number of major figures in the country’s history including Vicente Lava, a major resistance leader during the conflict with the Japanese amongst many others.
National Museum of the Philippines
The city’s most important and iconic museum, the National Museum of the Philippines has a number of different sections, including the National Museum of Fine Arts, which is known for its grandiose neoclassical building and extensive art collection. Perhaps the best known of the subsidiary museums is the National Museum of Anthropology, which houses a wealth of anthropological and archaeological relics from a range of episodes of Filipino history. Its most significant treasure is the wreck of the San Diego, a Spanish galleon wrecked in a conflict with the Dutch warship Mauritius in 1600.
A major urban park and one of the country’s most significant historical sites, Rizal Park has played a critical role in the country’s history. It is particularly notable as the location of Jose Rizal’s execution, hence its namesake. Rizal was a national hero and freedom fighter whose execution catalysed the victorious Philippine Revolution against the Kingdom of Spain in 1896. With the Rizal Monument as its centre piece, the park is one of the most culturally and historically significant sites in the city.