Manila’s rich history and vibrant culture have made it one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. And while the city has so much to offer in terms of attractions, its museums offer arguably the easiest way to connect with country and learn more about Filipino culture and history
So, if you want to explore the history of the Philippines’ cultural and historical hub, here are a few Manila museums that you should definitely add to your travel itinerary.
Ayala museum is the place to go if you want to learn about the rich history of the Philippines and the entire Southeast Asia region.
Here you’ll find a huge collection of historic artifacts, including over a thousand gold sculptures that represent the country’s culturally-rich period before its colonisation in the 16th century. Another unique attraction in the museum is the Philippine Diorama experience - a series of 60 handcrafted dioramas that showcase some of the most important moments in the Filipino history.
The Ayala Museum also host a great range of art, history and music programs, as well as lectures and temporary exhibitions sourced from all over the world. A true reflection of Manila’s storied history and modern influences!
No museum tour in Manila would be complete without a visit to the National Museum of the Filipino people – here you’ll will find paintings, sculptures and religious artifacts dating back to the 17th century.
The museum’s art collection includes work by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Fernando Amorsolo, and Jose P. Rizal, and the building that houses their collections is just as impressive as the artwork itself - massive columns and intricate detailed architecture make the National Museum an attraction all on its own.
If you want a unique perspective on the history of the Philippines, you can’t go wrong with the Money Museum of the Central Bank of the Philippines.
Opened in 1999, the museum showcases the history of the Filipino currency. Inside, you’ll find artifacts of the most primitive means of commercial exchange, and will be able to see how the country progressed before and after Spanish colonisation.
The country’s rich history and strong Spanish influences make the Money Museum a fascinating mixture of Old World/New World influences – a place where to see priceless native artifacts and Spanish currency sitting side by side.
Manila’s Metropolitan Museum hosts an eye opening showcase of some of the Philippines’s most exciting contemporary artists, as well as housing a dedicated collection of artifacts from all eras of the country’s history.
Up and coming artists rub shoulders with established names across the museum’s collections, and an extensive collection of pre-colonisation ceramics and jewellery make the Metropolitan museum a must-visit for art buffs and keen historians alike.
If you’re looking for an active day out that incorporates a unique look at the rich tapestry of Filipino history, then look no further than the Intramuros.
As the oldest district within Manila, the district was originally built by the conquistadors that colonised the Philippines in the 16th century. As such, Intramuros (also known as the Ciudad Murada or ‘walled city’) retains a lot of its original architecture despite heavy damage during WWII. Taxi’s and waterbuses offer the quickest route to this cultural hub – be sure to opt for a guided (and highly theatrical) tour of the walls and fortifications to get the most out of your stay.
Handcrafted by Gawad Kalinga villagers using locally sourced bamboo, Bambikes offer an eco-friendly alternative to the cars and taxis that crowd the roads during rush hour.
Bambikes are therefore the perfect solution – an eco-friendly, socially conscious alternative to a taxi that will allow you to navigate the city with ease. Join one of the many guided tours that take cyclists through Intramuros and the central Poblacion district to see Manila from a totally different perspective.
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