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Top 35 Must-Visit Historical Places & Landmarks in the Philippines

LIST: 35 Must-Visit Historical Places in the Philippines

In the world today, when some people are easily deceived by misinformation and hearsay they read on the internet, it’s important to relearn what we know about history. It’s a well-known fact that the Philippines had a tumultuous past. But fortunately, we have researchers and historians backed with data and evidence who know what really happened in the past. If you want to learn more about history, read books, watch documentaries, and visit historical sites—and here are some of the must-visits all over the Philippines.

Luzon

Fort Drum

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Fort Drum, also known as El Fraile Island by Paul Soutar via Wikimedia cc

Fort Drum is a concrete military post shaped like a battleship. It’s located at the mouth of Manila Bay, which was used as a harbor defense during the American colonial period in 1909. In 1942, the fort was taken by Japanese forces until 1945, when the American troops set it on fire, killing enemy troops. Since then, the war-torn fort has been abandoned, rusting in its place at the sea.

Address: El Fraile Island, Cavite City

Plaza Cuartel, Puerto Princesa

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Plaza Cuartel Entrance By Daxster16 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

Plaza Cuartel in Puerto Princesa City was a penal colony where hundreds of American soldiers were held captive. It is the site of the Palawan Massacre, where Japanese soldiers burned American troops alive in December 1944. Only 11 of the 154 soldiers survived. Now, the plaza has become a landmark in the town, reminding people of the gruesome incident that occurred in this garrison.

Address: Taft St, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite

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Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine By Patrick Roque – Taken using my camera with model DSC-HX5V, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

One of the most significant historical sites in the Philippines is the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine, where the Philippine Independence was declared. It was at the window of the grand hall of this mansion when the Philippine flag was waved and where the national anthem was first played, putting an end to the Spanish colonization of the country. The first president Emilio Aguinaldo donated the mansion to the government, which then became a shrine in 1964.

Address: Brgy Kaingen, Kawit, Cavite

Mount Samat in Bataan

landmarks in the philippines, must-visit historical places, philippine landmarks, top 35 must-visit historical places & landmarks in the philippines

Mount Samat By Sindre Helvik, CC BY 3.0, cc

Mount Samat, situated in Bataan, is a historical mountain with a huge cross on the summit. On this mountain happened one of the battles of World War II, wherein Filipino and American soldiers fought against Japanese forces. Unfortunately, the Japanese Imperial Army was too strong, and our troops had to surrender. The weary, famished soldiers had to walk more than 65 miles to the concentration camp, sadly leading to 10,000 soldiers dying–this was the Bataan Death March. At present, visitors may visit the top of Mount Samat by car or on foot.

Address: Pilar, Bataan

Tabon Cave, Palawan

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Tabon Cave Complex site in Lipuun Point, Quezon, Palawan By Jimaggro – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

Tabon Cave is where the earliest evidence of man was discovered, where human fossils were found in a Lipuun Point cave. Archaeological remains and tools have been found, proving that people lived here many thousand years ago. This historical site, also known as the “Cradle of Civilization,” can be accessed by a boat ride to explore the cave, swim, and snorkel offshore.

Address: Quezon, Palawan

EDSA Shrine, Quezon City

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EDSA Shrine By Patrick Roque – Taken using my camera with model DSC-HX5V, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

The Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace or more commonly known as EDSA Shrine, is a symbolic shrine found in Quezon City. It was built in 1989 to commemorate the historic People Power Revolution, where peaceful demonstrations occurred to topple down Dictator Ferdinand Marcos in People Power I and Joseph Estrada during People Power II.

Address: EDSA corner Ortigas Avenue, Quezon City

Binondo, Manila

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Binondo Church in front of Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz, Binondo, Manila By Patrick Roque – Taken using my own camera with model DSC-HX5V, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

Binondo is not just your ordinary Chinatown– it is recognized as the oldest Chinatown in the world, previously a center of commerce in Manila during the American colonization period. Visit the Binondo Church, also known as the Quiapo Church, which is the principal place of worship. You’ll also find Buddhist temples here. At present, people come here to tour, shop, and eat.

Tirad Pass, Ilocos Sur

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NHCP historical marker for Memorare in Tirad Pass by NHCP via Wikimedia cc

Tirad Pass is known to be the place where Philippine General Gregorio Del Pilar led the battle against American forces in 1899, known as the Battle of Tirad Pass. In this battle, Del Pilar fought with American troops to let President Emilio Aguinaldo escape going to the North. Aside from its historic significance, this destination in Ilocos Sur is a must-visit for hikers who want to climb Mount Tirad.

Barasoain Church, Bulacan

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Barasoain Church. The Cradle of Philippine Democracy by Chicodj via Wikimedia cc

Barasoain Church is a huge part of Philippine history because it was where the First Philippine Republic was inaugurated on January 23, 1899. Aside from that, it is also where the First Philippine Congress convened and where the Malolos Constitution was drafted in 1898-1899. The Roman Catholic Church is still recognized as one of the most important religious sites in the Philippines.

Address: Paseo del Congreso Street corner Don Antonio Bautista Street, Brgy. San Gabriel, Malolos, Bulacan

Malacañang Palace, Manila

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Malacanang Palace By Architect Jorge Ramos cc

The official residence and workplace of the Philippine president is the Malacañang Palace, situated in San Miguel, Manila. This grand structure was originally built in 1750 by Don Luis Rocha as a summer house. Now, it’s the seat of power, and the sprawling complex houses several Spanish-style buildings. Guided walking tours are available if you want to learn about the structure and the presidents who lived here.

Address: J.P. Laurel Street. San Miguel, Manila

Fort Santiago, Manila

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Fort Santiago in Intramuros

Located in Intramuros, Manila, this iconic landmark was a fortress that saw many historical events in the Philippines, such as the imprisonment of the national hero Jose Rizal, the invasion of Chinese pirates spearheaded by Limahong, and the start of the American rule in the Philippines. There are many sites to explore in Fort Santiago and nearby attractions that all have historical value.

Address: Palacio Del Gobernador, General Luna Corner Aduana Streets, Intramuros, Manila City

Calle Crisologo, Vigan

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Calle Crisologo, Vigan, Philippines by Ray in Manila via Wikimedia cc

The beautiful, nostalgic old-town street of Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, is a famous spot in the North. The street is a glimpse of the past, where you can see old stone ancestral houses, cobblestone roads, and horse-drawn carriages. The street was once the venue of commercial trade in North Luzon, where foreign traders did their business in the Philippines. Now, Calle Crisologo is still a commercial haven, where local traders now fill the stalls with souvenir items, snacks, and other Ilocano delicacies.

Address: Crisologo, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Corregidor Island

This island fortress served as the point for naval defenses in Manila due to its strategic location at the opening of Manila Bay. Corregidor Island is known as a military bastion, where Filipino and American soldiers fought against Japanese soldiers during World War II. People can still see the ruins and remains of the military forces at present, where memorable artifacts that remind us of heroism and valor can be seen.

Rizal Park, Manila

More commonly known as Luneta, the Rizal Park is where the Rizal Monument stands, which also contains some of the hero’s remains. This atmospheric park was once the site where the national hero was executed by Spaniards. Aside from seeing the monument, park goers enjoy attractions such as a dancing musical fountain, a garden, and the National Museum nearby.

Address: Roxas Boulevard, Ermita, Manila

Intramuros, Manila

400 years ago, Intramuros was the Spaniards’ military and political base in Asia. Also called the “Walled City,” huge 4.5km walls were used as defenses from invaders and disasters. It’s now one of the most popular historical tourist destinations in Manila, where you can learn about the history of the Philippines. Discover gateways, watch cultural performances, and other historical spots in the old district of Intramuros.

Cagsawa Ruins, Albay

The church tower that you can see from the Cagsawa Ruins was what was left of the Cagsawa Church. In 1636, it was destroyed by Dutch pirates and rebuilt in 1724. However, the church was destroyed again by the Mayon Volcano eruption. Though the church has not been rebuilt, the current site is still as glorious, thanks to the perfect cone-shaped Mount Mayon in the background.

Address: Brgy. Busay, Daraga, Albay

Biak-na-Bato, Bulacan

Image grabbed from Wikimedia Commons

Biak-na-Bato is a protected area and a national park located in Bulacan. It’s composed of caves used as hideouts of Filipino revolutionaries against Spanish troops. On November 1, 1897, the revolutionaries led by Emilio Aguinaldo and Spanish Colonial Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera signed a pact wherein the revolutionaries were given amnesty, and in return, they had to go into exile in Hong Kong. Now, the park is open to the public, where people enjoy trekking.

Address: Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan

Baguio City

Did you know that Baguio City was once an important piece of Philippine history? In 1941, Japanese invaders attacked Camp John Hay and used it as a military base. During the American colonial period, Baguio got its “Summer Capital of the Philippines” designation, which was established by the Americans as a hill station by the United States.

University of Santo Tomas

The University of Santo Tomas, or UST, is recognized as the oldest existing university in Asia. This private Catholic university was founded in 1611 and is known to be where national hero Jose Rizal previously studied. During the Japanese colonial period, the Japanese forces made UST their internment camp. The Catholic University of the Philippines stands strong, with more than 400 years of history.

Address: España Blvd, Sampaloc, Manila

Bataan Death March Markers

The gruesome Bataan Death March that killed thousands of soldiers was a tragic experience for many Filipinos. In honor of these brave men, 138 death march markers were placed from Mariveles to the Capas National Shrine (formerly Camp O’Donnell). These white obelisk plaques are placed along the roads, reminding travelers of where soldiers showed courage and heroism.

Address: Bagac, Bataan

Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao

In Northern Luzon is where you’ll find the National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines that is the Banaue Rice Terraces. Built 2,000 years ago, these beautiful and lush rice terraces were carved by Igorot ancestors by hand. Tourists flock to Ifugao to see these in person, by trekking, in the vast mountainous regions of Cordillera.

Address: Nueva Vizcaya – Ifugao – Mountain Province Rd, Banaue, Ifugao

Visayas

Leyte Landing Memorial Park

Characterized by the bronze statue of General Douglas MacArthur, the Leyte landing Park or MacArthur Landing Memorial Park was built to commemorate his return. Along with the General MacArthur statue are his Filipino companions. It’s located in the same exact place in Palo, Leyte. Apart from the landmark, the place is also family-friendly, where you can have picnics and stroll around the area.

Address: Palo, Leyte

Sandugo Shrine, Bohol

Sandugo Shrine or the Blood Compact Shrine is a must-see in Bohol. This shrine symbolizes the blood compact between Bohol Chieftain Datu Sikatuna and Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565, the first treaty between Spaniards and Filipinos. The statues were made by National Artist Napoleon Abueva. A visit to this shrine is free of charge.

Address: EK Inting St, Tagbilaran City, 6300 Bohol

Fort San Pedro, Cebu 

Fort San Pedro, which is now a historical park, was once a military garrison where Spanish settlement was first situated. Its original structure was wood but then replaced with stone in the 17th century. It’s a triangle-shaped fort with two sides that face the sea and, on one, the land. Now it serves as a museum and park for guests to learn about the early Spanish settlement in the Philippines.

Address: A. Pigafetta Street, Cebu City

Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Cebu

Known as the oldest Catholic Church in Cebu, the Basilica Minore del  Santo Niño is a pilgrimage site where Lopez de Legazpi’s Spanish forces discovered the image of Santo Niño. It was considered to be miraculous, as it was discovered in a burnt box, but the image was not. The first church was built in 1565 but was destroyed and rebuilt again until it was converted to a Basilica Minore by Pope Paul VI in 1965.

Address: Pilgrim’s Center, Osmeña Blvd, Cebu City

Mactan Shrine, Cebu

This monument was built in honor of Mactan chieftain Lapu-Lapu, who defended the island from the Spaniards. It is believed that the shrine placement was where the exact battle happened. There’s also a Magellan monument near the shrine. These are found in Punta Engaño in Mactan Island.

Address: Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu

The Ruins, Talisay, Negros Occidental

The Ruins is actually the remains of a once-grand mansion in Talisay. The mansion was owned by the family of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and Maria Braga Lacson. The Italian-style mansion was built in the 1900s but was burned by Filipino guerillas so that the Japanese forces won’t have to use it as their military headquarters. It’s now a tourist attraction that’s frequented by tourists who want to see the dramatic ruins up close.

Address: Don Mariano L. Lacson Highway, Brgy. Zone 15, 6100 Talisay, Negros Occidental

Limasawa Island, Southern Leyte

Limasawa is known to be where the earliest recorded Christian mass in the Philippines took place, during Easter Sunday. This idyllic island is also an ideal place for a relaxing beach vacation, best discovered underwater with its rich corals.

Address: Limasawa, Southern Leyte

Cinco de Noviembre Memorial, Negros Occidental

Cinco de Noviembre Memorial is a significant slice of history in Negros. This marker point commemorated the event when the Spanish rule ended in Negros. The plan for a bloodless revolt against Spaniards happened in this marker point, formerly Farmacia Locsin. It was on the 5th of November when the revolt began, thus the memorial’s name.

Address: Mambulac Road, Silay City Heritage Zone, Silay City, Negros Occidental

Mindanao

Sheik Karim al Makdum Mosque, Tawi-Tawi

The oldest mosque in the Philippines, Sheik Karim al Makdum Mosque, was built in 1380 by Arab trader Sheikh Makhdum Karim. It’s a National Historical Landmark, situated in Tubig Indangan, Tawi-Tawi. It also serves as the place where the Islamic faith began in the country. Behind the mosque is the burial site of Sheikh Makhdum as well.

Address: Brgy. Tubig Indangan, Simunul, Tawi-Tawi

Jose Rizal Shrine, Dapitan

This landmark in Dapitan, Zamboanga City, sits in the estate bought by Jose Rizal himself using his lottery winnings. This shrine tells the story of Jose Rizal in Dapitan, where he went into exile. Aside from the shrine itself, you can also explore the Jose Rizal Memorial Protected Landscape.

Address: Purok Linao, Talisay, Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte

Fort Pilar, Zamboanga City

This 17th-century military fortress was built by the Spaniards during their colonization of the country. Now a regional museum, Fort Pilar lets you see a part of its ruins and the garden inside and outside the fort. The eastern wall is dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar, the city’s patroness.

Address: N.S. Valderosa Street, Zamboanga City

Sunken Cemetery Camiguin

Located in Catarman, Camiguin Island, the Sunken Cemetery is a unique destination marked by a cross in the middle of the sea where tombstones lie underwater. The sunken cemetery resulted from a series of volcanic eruptions that occurred from the 1800s up to the 1960s. Now, tourists flock to the cemetery and go on a short dive to explore what’s underwater.

Address: Barrio Bonbon, Catarman, Camiguin

Japanese Tunnel, Davao City

A tunnel that was created by Filipino prisoners during World War II can be found in Davao City. The Japanese tunnel, discovered during road construction in the 1960s, was once a hideout and a way to transport equipment. Going here, you’ll find replicas and other artifacts of what it once looked like during World War II.

Address: Talomo, Davao City, Davao del Sur

Taluksangay Mosque, Zamboanga City

Taluksangay Mosque is known to be the oldest mosque in the Zamboanga Peninsula. It’s easily recognizable thanks to its red dome, which stands out among greeneries. Constructed by Sama Banguingui Chieftain Hadji Abdullah Maas Nuno in 1885, this was the center of Islam propagation.

Address: Brgy. Taluksangay, Zamboanga City

Have you visited any of these historical landmarks in the Philippines? Make this your bucket list and learn all about Filipino history through traveling!

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