The oldest part of Manila is the medieval Spanish walled enclave of Intramuros on the southern bank of the Pasig River, packed with historic buildings and churches, many of which are being or have been restored. The reconstruction of Intramuros has allowed for the inclusion of several parks and performing venues, art galleries, souvenir shops and restaurants, so that the area has become an attractive, entertaining and interesting tourist Mecca.
2. San Agustin Church Within Intramuros stands Manila's oldest stone church, San Agustin, one of the four Philippine baroque churches in UNESCO's World Heritage List. It was completed in 1606 and has since survived the ravages of time and successive invasions. The church has a magnificent, intricately carved door, baroque pulpit and an 18th-century pipe organ. A museum is housed in the monastery alongside the church, which holds a collection of paintings of saints and other religious art. The sacristy houses a collection of richly embroidered vestments, and Philippine notables are buried in the crypt.
3. Fort Santiago Marking the entrance at the north-western side of Intramuros, Fort Santiago is one of the oldest fortifications. Its construction started in 1571 and it was completed nearly 150 years later by Filipino forced labour. It is also known as the Shrine of Freedom, in memory of the heroic Filipinos imprisoned and killed here during the Spanish and Japanese eras.
4. Rizal Park Rizal Park is named after Dr José Rizal, renowned Philippine anti-colonialist, writer and philosopher. The park is one of the largest in South-East Asia and is a green lung much used by the residents of Manila for recreation and entertainment. The park features numerous ornamental gardens, a chess plaza and a skating rink. In a pond on the east side of the park the Philippine archipelago has been recreated in miniature. There are also some museums and public buildings within the park, and after sunset a sound and light exhibit featuring the martyrdom of Dr José Rizal can be seen. On Sundays there is a free concert in an open-air auditorium
.5. American Cemetery and Memorial The American Cemetery near the Makati commercial centre is a welcome, peaceful oasis, much visited by tourists, especially veterans of World War II. The hillside cemetery contains thousands of white marble crosses marking rows of graves of those who died in battle. The circular memorial contains the names of those missing in action engraved on marble columns; huge wall mosaics depict battle scenes from World War II, and a small chapel is located here.
6. Manila Cathedral Completed in 1951, Manila Cathedral rises majestically over the remains of five predecessor, the first of which was erected in 1581. Four of the previous constructions were destroyed by earthquakes and fires; the fifth was reduced to a bombed-out shell during the Liberation of Manila in 1945. The new Romanesque edifice incorporates stone carvings and rose windows salvaged from the ruins and are topped by a cupola.
7. Coconut Palace Made of materials derived from coconut, this unique building has a certain notoriety. It was reportedly built at the command of Imelda Marcos as a palace for Pope John Paul II on one of his visits to Manila, but he chose to stay at the papal nunciature instead. The Coconut Palace is now a museum, with its seven bedrooms displaying different regional styles of home interior design and furnishing. The living area may be booked for parties and functions.
8. Manila City Hall Much criticised when it was unveiled in the 1930s, the City Hall today fascinates the viewer for precisely the same reason it was vilified - its intriguing lack of symmetry and regularity. Beautifully lit at night, it is one of Manila's most distinctive landmarks.9. Manila Bay The history of Manila is closely tied to this body of water. Naval battles were fought here, including the celebrated La Naval de Manila in 1646, which effectively put a stop to repeated attempts by the Dutch to take over the Philippines. It was also on Manila Bay that the Spanish fleet was annihilated by the American forces under Commodore George Dewey. But more than anything else, Manila Bay is renowned for its spectacular sunsets.
10. Plaza San Luis Named after one of the barrios of old Intramuros, this is a cultural-cum-commercial complex currently composed of five houses: Casa Manila, Casa Blanca, Casa Urdaneta, Los Hidalgos and El Hogar Filipino. Plaza San Luis will eventually consist of nine houses, representing different eras in Filipino-Hispanic architecture. Aside from gift and speciality shops, the complex has a museum at Casa Manila, containing late 19th-century and early 20th-century furniture found in a typical privileged-class home.
11. Palacio del Gobernador Formerly the home of Manuel Estacio de Venegas, a governor's aide, the two-storey structure was expropriated and subsequently made the official residence and office of the Spanish governor generals in 1645 until an earthquake brought it down in 1863. It lay in ruins for almost a century until the Land Bank of the Philippines built an eight-storey building on the site in 1978. The office of the Intramuros Administration is presently housed here.
12. Paco Park The park was formerly a municipal cemetery, enclosed with a circular stone wall originally completed in 1822. At present, the park serves as a regular venue for intimate musical and cultural concerts, featuring local and international artists bringing art to the masses. Weddings, garden receptions, holy masses and family gatherings are likewise held here.
13. Roxas Boulevard One of Manila's best-known landmarks, originally named Dewey Boulevard, then renamed after the Philippines' first elected president, Manuel Roxas, after the country gained independence in 1946. Offering the most scenic drive in the whole of Manila, this ten-kilometre oceanfront boulevard goes past other landmarks such as Intramuros, Rizal Park and the Cultural Centre of the Philippines.
14. Quezon Memorial Circle Topped by angels, this towering monument was erected in honour of Manuel L Quezon, a brilliant and charismatic leader who would have become the first elected president of the Philippines had he not succumbed to tuberculosis while in exile in the United States during World War II. Inside the shrine are relics and memorabilia, including family souvenirs and pictures of the great man.