10 Historical Places In The Philippines For History Buffs
We have an abundance of beaches, waterfalls, and other natural attractions that all tourists patronize. But in fact, other than these beauties, the Philippines is a country rich in heritage and culture. From our history classes, we learned that we were under the rule of more than just one nationality—Spaniards, Japanese, Americans, and more in between if you count the shorter times. This fact gives us all the more reason to give significance to the historical places in the Philippines that are equally remarkable and worth visiting.
If you’re ready to engage in a historical adventure, here’s a list of must-visits.
This rather short 500-meter street at Vigan City in Ilocos Sur is among the best heritage spots the country has from the Spaniards. The calle only stretches five blocks, but it is lined with heritage houses. The houses were owned by prominent Chinese-Filipino families back in the days. It’s literally a walk down memory lane!
2Banaue Rice Terraces
Referred by many as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Banaue Rice Terraces is one of the historical places in the Philippines that is man-made! The 2,000-year-old attraction carved by the indigenous people into the mountains of Ifugao. Soaring at around 1,500 meters above sea level, the Banaue Rice Terraces were built entirely by hand and with very minimal tools. It deeply reflects our rice culture and the incredible amount of dedication Filipinos have.
Named after the country’s national hero, Rizal Park (also called Luneta Park) is an urban park at Kilometer 0 Roxas Boulevard near Intramuros, Manila. Long before the monument, the park was part of the city called Bagumbayan (“New Town” in English). Exactly 100 meters northwest of the monument, José Rizal was executed by the Spanish military firing squad. Back in the day, he spread his revolutionary ideas that led to the liberation of the Philippines. In the base of his monument is where his remains are kept.
Fort Santiago is a significant part of the Walled City of Manila known as Intramuros. It served as a defense fortress during the Spanish colonial period. Dr. José Rizal was imprisoned here before his execution in 1896. Many American and Filipino troops were locked in the prison dungeons and left drowning during the Japanese occupation in World War II. Now, Fort Santiago offers carefully manicured plazas and houses the Rizal Shrine Museum. The museum the same building where Rizal stayed, making it another historical place in the Philippines worth visiting.
EDSA may be notorious for its traffic, but it certainly holds a lot more in its history than just cars and buses. Originally built to commemorate the People Power Revolution (EDSA I) that ousted former President Ferdinand Marcos, the small Catholic church is called the Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace, Our Lady of EDSA. It honors the peaceful victory and freedom from dictatorship. In 2001, the same shrine served again as a site for another peaceful demonstration called EDSA II that toppled former President Joseph Estrada.
Among all historical places in the Philippines, Magellan’s Cross may be the oldest of all. This cross is housed in a stone rotunda right in front of Cebu City Hall along Magallanes Street. It encases the original cross that Ferdinand Magellan erected in Cebu upon his arrival in the Philippines in 1521. Although Magellan is considered an enemy to the natives, he did bring Christianity into the country which is why a shrine was built in his honor.
Bohol isn’t just well-known for its beautiful Chocolate Hills but also for being a historical place in the Philippines significant to the Spanish era. Sandugo, or one blood in Visayan, refers to the blood compact performed between Miguel López de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna in 1565. This pact is considered the first ever treaty of friendship made between Filipinos and Spaniards.
Corregidor Island served a lot of significant roles throughout the country’s history. Partly because of its location right at the entrance of Manila Bay, only the most important seaport in the Philippines. It served as a support site to the homecoming Spanish galleons and a defense fortress during the Spanish colonial period. The island became one of the Regular American Army posts. It was called Fort Mills. This led to even heavier fortifications of the island. During WWII, the island fortress was taken by the Japanese, but it was recaptured through the bloody Battle of Corregidor led by General Douglas MacArthur.
9José Rizal Shrine
José Rizal was first sent into exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte before going on to become the country’s national hero. he was first sent into exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte. Rizal was accused of organizing a rebellion and plotting the Philippine revolution. There, he bought a farm lot and helped a lot of locals in their livelihood. He also worked as a rural physician, and even met his wife, Josephine Bracken. Now, Rizal Park and Shrine is considered a protected landscape area. It is one of our many historical places in the Philippines.
10Leyte Landing Memorial National Park
This 6.78-hectare war memorial commemorates the historic landing of General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte Gulf in 1944. Before coming back to the Philippines, MacArthur dropped his famous line “I shall return.” This was his promise to the Filipinos of coming back to liberate the country from Japanese occupation.
History buff or not, we all ought to know our past and the reason we are where we are. We hope this travel bucket list helps you become a smarter traveler by discovering the historical places in the Philippines. Learn how Filipinos of long ago lived, and how and why they fought against the oppressors for us to have the level of freedom we enjoy right now.