LIST: 35 Must-Visit Historical Places in the Philippines
Today, when some people are easily deceived by misinformation and hearsay they read on the internet, it’s vital 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 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-visit historical places all over the Philippines.
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 over 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.
- Address: El Fraile Island, Cavite City
Plaza Cuartel, Puerto Princesa
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 in this garrison.
- Address: Taft St, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
- Related tours: Puerto Princesa Heritage Tour
Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite
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, ending the Spanish colonization of the country. The first president Emilio Aguinaldo donated the mansion to the government, which became a shrine in 1964.
- Address: Brgy Kaingen, Kawit, Cavite
Mount Samat in Bataan
Mount Samat, situated in Bataan, is a historical mountain with a massive 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. Visitors may visit the top of Mount Samat by car or on foot.
- Address: Pilar, Bataan
Tabon Cave, Palawan
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
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 Dictator Ferdinand Marcos in People Power I and Joseph Estrada during People Power II.
- Address: EDSA corner Ortigas Avenue, Quezon City
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, 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
Tirad Pass is 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 historical significance, this destination in Ilocos Sur is a must-visit for hikers who want to climb Mount Tirad.
Barasoain Church, Bulacan
One of the most famous landmarks in the Philippines, 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 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
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 to learn about the structure and the presidents who lived here.
Address: J.P. Laurel Street. San Miguel, Manila
Fort Santiago, Manila
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 with historical value.
- Address: Palacio Del Gobernador, General Luna Corner Aduana Streets, Intramuros, Manila City
- Related Tours: Old Manila Heritage Full-Day tour
Calle Crisologo, Vigan
The beautiful, nostalgic old-town street of Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, is famous 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 retail haven, where local traders now fill the stalls with souvenir items, snacks, and other Ilocano delicacies.
- Address: Crisologo, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
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 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, 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 Spaniards executed the national hero. Aside from seeing the monument, parkgoers enjoy attractions such as a dancing musical fountain, a garden, and the National Museum nearby.
- Address: Roxas Boulevard, Ermita, 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 famous 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 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 is a protected area and a national park located in Bulacan. It comprises caves used as hideouts for 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. 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
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. Baguio was established as a hill station by the United States in 1900 at the site of an Ibaloi village known as Kafagway.
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
Northern Luzon is where you’ll find the National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines, 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
MacArthur Leyte Landing Memorial National 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 General MacArthur’s statue are his Filipino companions. It’s located in the same exact place in Palo, Leyte. Apart from the landmark, the site is 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 symbolized 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, 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 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 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 where the earliest recorded Christian mass in the Philippines occurred, during Easter Sunday. This idyllic island is also ideal 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
Sheik Karimol Makhdum Mosque, Tawi-Tawi
The oldest mosque in the Philippines, Sheik Karimol Makhdum 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. Jose Rizal 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 some 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 created by Filipino prisoners during World War II can be found in Davao City. The Davao Japanese tunnel, discovered during road construction in the 1960s, was once a hideout and a way to transport equipment. You’ll find replicas and 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 the greeneries. This was the center of Islam propagation, constructed by Sama Banguingui Chieftain Hadji Abdullah Maas Nuno in 1885.
- Address: Brgy. Taluksangay, Zamboanga City
Have you visited any of these historical landmarks in the Philippines? Do you know other fascinating historic places that we should add on this list? Make this your bucket list, and learn all about Filipino history through traveling!
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