Photo by Kent Ogares on Unsplash
The Philippines’ architectural heritage dates back to the 13th century, when the first settlers in Manila and surrounding areas built their homes using wood and bamboo—materials plentiful in the island nation. Over the centuries, the country developed its own style of vernacular architecture, from its famous Spanish-influenced churches to traditional Filipino houses like the bahay kubo and nipa hut . Today, there are dozens of architectural landmarks in the Philippines worth visiting, whether you’re an architect or just an architecture enthusiast looking to see some beautiful pieces of history up close.
7 Unforgettable Architectural Landmarks to See in the Philippines
1. Manila Observatory
The Manila Observatory is a Jesuit research institution in Manila. Founded in 1865, it is one of the oldest astronomical institutions in Asia. The Observatory is located on top of Guadalupe Hill, giving it a commanding view of Metro Manila. It was here that Father Felix Deza made the first observations of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa. Today, the Observatory continues to conduct research on astronomy and seismology, and is open to the public for tours and events.
2. San Sebastian Church
San Sebastian Church is one of the most beautiful churches in Asia. It is made of all red bricks and has Gothic Revival architecture. The church was built in 1891 and is a National Historical Landmark. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. San Sebastian Church is definitely a must-see when you are in the Philippines.
3. Manila Central Post Office
The Manila Central Post Office is a beautiful building that was completed in 1926. The exterior is made of white marble and features intricate details. The interior is just as stunning, with a grand staircase and high ceilings. The post office is definitely worth a visit when you’re in Manila.
4. Palacio del Gobernador (Palace of the Governor General)
The Palacio del Gobernador is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Philippines. The building was originally built in 1571 as a residence for the Spanish Governor General. It has since been used as a government office, a museum, and is now open to the public as a tourist attraction. The Palacio del Gobernador is a must-see for anyone interested in Philippine history or architecture.
5. Cultural Centre of the Philippines Complex
The Cultural Centre of the Philippines Complex is a large building complex located in Manila. The centre houses several performing arts venues, a museum, and a library. The complex was designed by Filipino architect Leandro V. Locsin and completed in 1969. The centre also houses the Museum of Philippine Art, which features exhibits on Filipino culture and history. The complex is a popular tourist destination and is one of the most iconic architectural landmarks in the Philippines.
6. Bahay Tsinoy (Chinese House)
The Bahay Tsinoy is a two-storey house built by Chinese-Filipino immigrants in the early 20th century. It’s one of the few remaining examples of Chinese-Filipino architecture and is now a museum dedicated to Chinese-Filipino history. Paco Park was once a cemetery for Spanish soldiers and priests, but it’s now a beautiful garden park popular with locals and tourists alike. The park has a bandstand, fountains, and plenty of green space to relax in.
7. Batanes Provincial Capitol Building
The Batanes Provincial Capitol Building is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Philippines. The building, which was completed in 1945, is a fine example of Spanish Colonial architecture. It is located in the city of Basco, on the island of Batan. The building has a central courtyard and two wings. The east wing houses the offices of the governor and other officials, while the west wing contains the legislative chamber. The Batanes Provincial Capitol Building is a National Historical Landmark and a must-see for anyone interested in Philippine history or architecture.