The history of Manila is closely tied to this body of water. Naval battles were fought here, including the celebrated La Naval de Manila in 1646, which effectively put a stop to repeated attempts by the Dutch to take over the Philippines. It was also on Manila Bay that the Spanish fleet was annihilated by the American forces under Commodore George Dewey, ushering in 40 years of American occupation. But more than anything else, Manila Bay is renowned for its spectacular sunsets - a must-see for every visitor to the city.
Ayala Bridge Between P. Casal Street and Ayala Avenue, Manila, Philippines
Ayala Bridge was constructed during the building boom of the 1920's, which is considered to have been Manila's most glittering decade. It was at about the same time that the nation's government center (around present-day Rizal Park) was being developed into a showcase of Neoclassical architecture. Ayala Bridge is counted among the four bridges (the others are Jones Bridge, Quezon Bridge and MacArthur Bridge) that are historically identified with the Pasig River, Manila's main waterway.
Walking Tour of Intramuros
Intramuros, Manila, Philippines
Armed with a map and guidebook, you can set off to explore Intramuros on your own. Start at the Intramuros Visitors Center at the entrance to Fort Santiago and then proceed towards the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church and Casa Manila Museum. Most of the walls, gates and bulwarks have been reconstructed or restored, and it is possible to walk on the 4.5-kilometer rampart. Alternatively, you can arrange for a guided tour at the Visitors Center. Just remember the walk, guided or otherwise, may be done only during the day, as access to the walls is limited at night.
Monasterio de Santa Clara Katipunan Avenue and Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City, Manila, Philippines
This monastery is where nuns of the Order of Saint Clare of Assisi (usually called Poor Clares) lead a life of prayer and contemplation, having renounced the world and earthly possessions. The church is a lovely cream-colored building that is very much in the mold of Spanish-built mission churches in California, U.S.A. Carrying on an old tradition, people often come here with offerings (usually eggs) and ask the saintly nuns to pray for good weather.
San Marcelino Street and Gen. Luna Street, Paco, Manila, Philippines
Unique among Manila's landmarks, Paco Park is quite possibly the only one of its kind in the world. A former cemetery, the construction of which was completed in 1820, it consists of two circular structures containing tiers of niches (now empty) that were once used for interment. On top of both stone structures are galleries along which the visitor can take a leisurely stroll to better admire the tranquil beauty of the park. A National Historical Shrine, Paco Park serves as the venue of Paco Park Presents, a yearlong series of free concerts/cultural events held every Friday evening.
Site of Rizal's Execution
Roxas Boulevard, Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines
Dr. Jose Rizal was sentenced to death by the Spanish colonial authorities on the grounds that the nationalist ideas contained in his two novels (Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo) were fomenting revolution. Rizal's death was a turning point in Philippine and, in a larger context, Asian history. The Philippine Revolution followed not long after his execution, ushering in Asia's first democracy. Here, on the actual site of his execution, eight clusters of life size bronze statues depict 'The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal', highlighted with an evening light and sound presentation.
University of Santo Tomas
Bounded by Espana Avenue and Dapitan, A. H. Lacson and P. Noval Streets, Sampaloc, Manila, Philippines
Asia's first university, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) was founded in 1611, antedating Harvard, America's oldest institution of higher learning. UST was located inside Intramuros but moved to its present site in 1927 to accommodate the growing student body. The front campus is distinguished by large tracts of lawn, an arc de triomphe and two circular fountains. At the far end stands a medieval-looking structure topped by a huge clock tower and statues of saints, philosophers and great writers. A leisurely walk will take you past different colleges devoted to the humanities, sciences, arts and music.
National Museum (Old Congress Building) Padre Burgos Street, Old Congress Building, off Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines
This department of the National Museum is well worth visiting even if only to view one painting: the stunning "Spoliarium" by 19th-century Filipino master Juan Luna. The huge canvas brought fame to Luna and recognition to Filipino artists in general by garnering the coveted gold medal at the 1884 Madrid Exposition, surpassing a field of European contenders. Amazingly, the silver medal went to another Filipino, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. Both Luna and Hidalgo are represented in the museum's collection. Also of interest are displays of flora and fauna, some indigenous to the Philippines.
Jose P Laurel Sr. Street, San Miguel, Manila, Philippines
Originally a grandee's summer home on the banks of the Pasig River, Malacanang Palace became the residence of the Spanish governor-general in 1863 when an earthquake devastated the Palacio del Gobernador (Governor's Palace) in Intramuros. From then on it has served as the official residence of the country's heads of government, passing on to the Presidents of the Philippines with the gaining of independence. The original 19th-century building was an edifice of singular architectural merit, but that has been all but lost in the many alterations that took place over some 150 years.
Rizal Park Roxas Boulevard, (bounded by T. M. Kalaw Avenue, Taft Avenue & P. Burgos Street), Manila, Philippines
Named after the Philippines' national hero, Rizal Park could be considered the symbolic seat of the nation's heart and soul. More commonly called Luneta, it is spread out over some 60 hectares of gardens, wooded areas and open spaces, drawing crowds from all walks of life. Points of interest include the Rizal Monument, the Site of Rizal's Execution, the central pool and fountains, the Chinese Garden and Japanese Garden, and a huge relief map showing the whole Philippine archipelago. The National Library and National Museum are next door.
Places to Visit in Manila
Fascination is an understatement of the feeling that one gets by visiting Manila, a lively metropolis commanding a magnificent view of the world-famous Manila Bay and its golden sunset. Historic, bustling, awe-inspiring, the “Philippine Cosmopolitan Capital” is a blend of cultures and flavors that offers an endless serving of places to see, sights to behold, and experiences to never forget.