The capital of Philippines is made up of 17 cities which form Metro Manila home of 14 million people. In the Spanish Era, Manila was a walled city, the area being called Intramuros. The walls were built to protect the area from the Chinese pirates. During the World War II much of the city was destroyed.
In Intramuros you can see the Fort Santiago, a defence fortress built in 1571. Philippine's national hero - Jose Rizal was imprisoned in the fort in 1896, before being executed.
You can see on the ground his final footsteps in bronze, marking the way from his cell to the execution place.
Even if it had a troubled history, there are interesting places to visit in Manila. From bohemian life, discos and clubs to sport events, you find them all in Manila. Start with Ermita - a district known for its vibrant university life, being the home of several universities and colleges. You can also find here many outdoor cafes (the meeting places for students), coin shops and prostitutes (despite efforts from the government to get rid of these practices). In Malate district you can go shopping in one of the new shopping centres and boutiques or can watch street dancing or ground-level concerts.
On the north bank of the Pasig River you can admire Malacanang Palace - the official residence for the president of the country.
Along Roxas Boulevard you can have a walk and see the sunset over Manila Bay on the Baywalk promenade. If you like outdoor activities you can also spend a sunny afternoon in Rizal Park having a picnic around the artificial lake with a replica of the Philippines archipelago in the middle of it. After a tasty lunch you can also see the Chinese and Japanese gardens, the Orchidarium or the Butterfly pavilion. In front of the Rizal monument there is a post which marks km 0, from where all distances in the country are measured.
The city is now officially a global city being classified as "Gamma" by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network.
Due to its nice weather, especially in the dry season, Manila is the perfect getaway. Even if you intend to spend more time in other parts of the Philippines or want to go scuba diving, don't avoid Manila with its troubled history and the traditional or flashy attractions.