March 14, 2019

7 Places in Manila Perfect for a Day of History, Culture, and Arts

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  • What comes to mind when Manila is mentioned? Probably a lively city filled with bustling people no matter what time of the day, but there’s more to the country’s capital city than what meets the eye as its busy streets are laden with centuries worth of history, culture, and arts.

    If you’re someone interested in knowing more about the history of the Philippines, then continue on as we have compiled a few of the many remarkable places found in the city of Manila perfect for a historical trip!


    What better way to begin than with the walled city of Intramuros? This fortress served as a central site for significant economic and cultural interactions during the colonial periods. Its walls housed some of the country’s most important architectures like churches, schools, houses, and even government buildings. Below are some of the most known:

    Fort Santiago

    Fort Santiago served as Philippine national hero Jose Rizal’s detention place before he was executed in Rizal Park (Bagumbayan then). The military fort was built by Spanish Governor-General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and was named after the patron saint of Spain, Saint James.

    Operating hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Daily)
    Admission fees: Php 75 for adults; Php 50 for students, children, and senior citizens

    Baluarte de San Diego

    Opposite Rizal Park is a circular-shaped fort that has truly stood the test of time. Baluarte de San Diego was built by Jesuit priest Antonio Sedeno as part of the barricades of the walled city in the 16th century. Today, its withered remains proudly tell the centuries of wars and natural disasters it has witnessed.

    Operating hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Daily)
    Admission fees: Php 75 for adults; Php 50 for students, children, and senior citizens

    Casa Manila

    Curious to know what it was like to live in a mansion during 19th century Manila? Casa Manila showcases just that. The three-level museum aims to capture a classic Bahay na Bato (house made of stone) from its architectural design to its interiors and furnishings.

    Operating hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
    Admission fees: Php 75 for adults; Php 50 for students, children, and senior citizens

    Also read: Inside Intramuros: A Tour in Manila’s Walled City

    Rizal Park / Luneta Park

    Rizal Park is located on the place where Jose Rizal was executed on December 30, 1896. In the middle of the park is the guarded Rizal Monument and across the monument is the country’s tallest flagpole at 46 meters. The 0 km post is also found in the area, which indicates the beginning of measure of all destinations in the Philippines.  

    CCP Complex

    The CCP Complex, established in 1969, houses the Cultural Center of the Philippines—mandated to promote and develop the culture and arts in the country. Aside from the National Arts Center and the CCP Museum, the complex features five theaters and six exhibition halls named after national artists who contributed greatly to Philippine arts may it be in the form of literature, music, theater or visual arts.

    Also read: Cultural Center of the Philippines

    National Museum

    The National Museum was designated to acquire, preserve, and exhibit all artifacts related to Philippine history, culture, and arts. It has four buildings: the National Art Gallery, the National Museum of Anthropology, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Planetarium.

    Operating hours: 10 am to 5 pm (Tuesday to Sunday)
    Admission fees: FREE of charge permanently

    Also read: National Museum Complex: A Memento of the Philippines’ Rich Culture

    Metropolitan Museum of Manila

    IMAGE Metropolitan Museum of Manila Facebook

    The Metropolitan Museum of Manila was originally built in 1976 to showcase international exhibits, but its purpose shifted in 1986 and instead focused on cultivating Filipino art and culture. Now, the museum believes in the philosophy of art being for all.

    Operating hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  (Monday to Saturday)
    Admission rates: Php 100 for adults; Php 80 for seniors and persons with disability; FREE admission every Tuesday  

    Museo Pambata

    IMAGE Museo Pambata website

    Museo Pambata is not your typical museum. Aside from the fact that it was created specifically for kids, it features hands-on exhibits where they can learn while playing. The museum is divided into eight parts: Environment, Old Manila, Career Options, I Love My Planet Earth, My Body Works, Marketplace, Global Village, and Karapatan Hall.

    Operating hours: 9 am to 5 pm (Tuesday to Saturday); 1 pm to 5 pm (Sunday)
    Admission rates: Php 250 for children 2 years old and above and adults

    Manila Bay

    Even before being on the spotlight because of the ongoing rehabilitation, Manila Bay has always been a popular spot both for local and tourists alike. The historical bay served as a place for trading as early as pre-colonial times, as well as the location for many wars, including the infamous Battle of Manila Bay.

    Also read: Battle for Manila Bay: The Rehabilitation of the Historic Bay

    Have you toured around the city of Manila? We’d love to hear your stories and experiences in the comments below!

    Sources: Culture TripThe Manila ProjectPhilStarOfficial Intramuros Administration FacebookExpedia (1)Expedia (2)Lonely PlanetFAQ.phCCP WebsiteMET Manila websiteNational Museum website, and Museo Pambata website

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