As the capital city of the Philippines with a population of over 1.5 million people, there is no doubt that the vibrant city of Manila is one of the real visitor attractions for people coming to the country. This historical city has long been a crossroads for international traders and seafarers, having been discovered by Spanish explorers in the fifteenth century. However, European influence was not the first to reach these isles of this city, as it had already been conquered by the kingdom of Brunei, so was already an international city.
The Church Of San Agustin
As an UNESCO world heritage site, San Agustin Church is one of the most important historical sites in the city, lying within a small walled city. The current church has been ministering to the Roman Catholic flock of Manila since the early years of the seventeenth century, and is a beautiful example of the church architecture during the Spanish colonial period. One of the most remarkable aspects of the church is that it has survived a number of earthquakes with minimal damage, along with the frequent changes of hands between different empires.
Today the church has been beautifully restored to its original glory, and is packed with wonderful art, and the intricately carved wooden doors to the church are particularly impressive.
Get Your Pulse Racing At The Enchanted Kingdom
Another of the attractions to be enjoyed in Manila is The Enchanted Kingdom, which is the largest theme park to be found in the Philippines. The park itself is made up of a number of segments that have a variety of themes, and each one has a number of rides with those like the Disk-o-Magic and the Space Shuttle being particularly popular among visitors. They also host large firework displays in the evenings on public holidays, which brings more local families into the park.
Visit Fort Santiago
FortSantiago was built by the Spanish at the end of the sixteenth century, and the large defensible fortress made it a desirable building to hold for anyone looking to maintain their foothold in the city. In a roughly triangular shape, the fort has tall thick walls that were very useful during the frequent raids, and an ornamental gate added in the eighteenth century helped to make the building a little more attractive as well as being functional. The site also saw the raising of the flag of the United States in 1898 when the islands were colonized by the Americans.
Although it sustained heavy damage during the Second World War, FortSantiago is still well worth exploring, with many of the walls still in place, and the gate has been reconstructed.
Watch The Sparks Fly At The World Pyro Olympics
One of the biggest events in the Philippine calendar is the fireworks extravaganza that is the World Pyro Olympics. Having been inaugurated in 2005, the annual event sees the best of the world’s fireworks manufacturers come together to display their hard work from the previous year, and to compete against other manufacturers to make the best fireworks.
As well as being a commercial enterprise allowing for fireworks manufacturers to come together, it is also a fantastic spectacle. Although nominally an independent city, the suburb of Pasay is the best place to witness the event which is spread over six weekend evenings in the spring.
Visit The Rizal Monument And Park
This monument and park is dedicated to one of the greatest national heroes in the history of the Philippines, Jose Rizal. Having been educated in Europe Rizal returned to the Philippines and was a political figure keen to bring about the independence of the country through peaceful reform. He was also a keen artist working with paint and sculpture, and was also a poet and successfully published two novels. He became a martyr after being falsely tried and executed of leading a rebellion in 1896.
The mausoleum and monument at the heart of the park is only a short distance from where he was executed, but is now an important site in Manila.
Enjoy The Feast Of The Black Nazarene
This is an annual festival that is celebrated in the Manila district Quiapo on January 9, to celebrate the festival of a statue of Jesus Christ which is carried through the district. The statue itself was imported from Mexico, and the original white skin of the statue has darkened significantly. During the festival it is not uncommon for up to eight million people to pack the streets of the district to enjoy the parade, which begins at RizalPark, and the traverses a significant route to return to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene.