Founded on June 24, 1571 by Spanish settlers, Manila is the capital and largest city of the Philipines. It is situated on the eastern shore of Manila Bay, about 1300 km from mainland Asia. The city is known for its mix of architecture that shows a wide range of styles spanning different historical and cultural periods. Architectural styles reflect American, Spanish, Chinese, and Malay influences. Major tourist destinations include the historic Walled City of Intramuros, Manila Ocean Park, Binondo, Malate, the National Museum Complex and Rizal Park.
Completed in 1593, Fort Santiago is a citadel first built by Spanish conquistador for the new established city of Manila in the Philippines. The defense fortress is part of the structures of the walled city of Manila referred to as Intramuros. The fort is one of the most important historical sites in Manila. Today, the fort, its bastions, and the prison dungeons for criminals used by the Spanish officials, is now part of a historical park which also includes the Plaza Moriones and several ruins. The park houses well-preserved legacies from the Spanish Colonial Period.
Manila Cathedral is a Roman Catholic basilica located in the historic walled area in the city. It is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the Principal Patroness of the Philippines. The cathedral was originally the "church of Manila" officially established in 1571 and the current structure was completed in 1958.
Intramuros (Latin for "within the walls") is the historic walled area and at the time of the Spanish Colonial Period was synonymous to the City of Manila. It was the seat of government and political power when the Philippines was a component realm of the Spanish Empire. It was also the center of religion, education and economy. Construction started by the Spanish colonial government in the late 16th century to protect the city from foreign invasions. Intramuros now is the only district of Manila where old Spanish-era influences are still plentiful. It is a National Historical Landmark.
San Agustin Church is a Roman Catholic church under the auspices of The Order of St. Augustine and it is a World Heritage Site. In 1898, the church was the site where Spanish Governor-General Fermin Jaudenes prepared the terms for the surrender of Manila to the United States of America following the Spanish–American War. The church is patterned after some of the magnificent temples built by the Augustinians in Mexico. The present edifice was built in 1587, and completed, together with the monastery, in 1604.
The National Museum of Fine Arts is part of the National Museum of the Philippines, which also includes the National Museum of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, and National Planetarium. The National Museum of Fine Arts is housed in the old neoclassical Legislative Building built in 1921. The museum was founded in 1998 and houses a collection of paintings and sculptures by classical Filipino artists such as Juan Luna and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo.
Divisoria is a commercial center in Manila, which is known as a place for low-priced goods. The origins of Divisoria can be traced in the Spanish Colonial Era when non-Christian Chinese traders are prohibited to reside and do business inside the nearby Intramuros. This led to the ethnic Chinese to set up shop in Binondo which caused the area situated near the Pasig River, to become a thriving commercial hub.
Rizal Park is a historical urban park and is one of the largest urban parks in Asia. Situated by the Manila Bay, not only is it a popular leisure spot, it is also an important site in Philippine history. Rizal Park's history began in 1820 during the Spanish rule. The place became notorious for public executions for a while. In 1998, the park hosted many festivities which capped the 1998 Philippine Centennial, the event commemorating a hundred years since the Declaration of Independence from Spain. The bronze-and-granite Rizal monument is among the most famous sculptural landmarks in the country.
Manila Ocean Park is an oceanarium that houses 14,000 sea creatures from about 277 species all of which is indigenous in Southeast Asia. Its main feature is the 25 meters 220° curved walkway tunnel after a 55-meter walkthrough inside the Oceanarium. Other attractions include activities such as fish spa, glass bottom boat rides, fountain performances and shows.
The Baywalk is a seaside promenade overlooking Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard. Manila Bay is a natural harbour which serves the Port of Manila. Strategically located around the capital city, Manila Bay facilitated commerce and trade between the Philippines and its neighbouring countries even prior to Spanish occupation. The Baywalk is a popular venue at night with open-air cafes that serve local cuisines while onlookers may watch the iconic Manila sunset. Many of the venues also feature music and live band performances.
Binondo is referred to as the city's Chinatown and is the world's oldest Chinatown. Established in 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement for Catholic Chinese, it was positioned so that colonial rulers could keep a close eye on their migrant subjects. Binondo is the center of commerce and trade of Manila, where all types of business run by Filipino-Chinese thrive. Given its rich historical and financial significance, Binondo is said to have one of the highest land values nationwide.
Malate is a district that serves as Manila's center for commerce and tourism. Malate during the Spanish colonial period was an open space with a small fishing village. After America annexed the islands in 1898 as a consequence of the Spanish–American War, American urban planners envisioned the development of Malate as the newest and trendiest exclusive residential area for American families. Today, a number of attractions and venues can be found in Malate: the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden and the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex.