Manila is the capital of the Philippines. Modern Manila is an intricate conglomeration of 17 satellite towns that have nothing in common. “Big Manila” stretches for several tens of kilometers and breaks apart into detached regions – “cities” – this way, Manila makes up something like a “city inside a city”.

The best place to start your excursion around Manila with is Fort Santiago, which is easily reachable on a taxi from Ermita district (“the tourist belt” where most of hotels are concentrated). It is here that 4 centuries ago a bamboo fortress belonging to Rajah Suliman – Manila, a young and valiant warrior, was located. In 1571 Spanish conquistador Miguel L√≥pez de Legazpi arrived to the place. The same year he founded Manila here, which became a Spanish – eastern architecture monument. Opposite Fort Santiago there is Manila Cathedral found. The cathedral is built of Philippine air bricks and is decorated in Roman style. The city was almost destroyed during the Second World War. One thing that was saved by a miracle after a violent American bombing in 1945 is San Agustin Church and museum. Adjacent to the church, you will find a museum and monastery where all articles of Philippine church art are kept. Not far from here there is a complex of reconstructed buildings, Plaza San Luis situated, with its galleries of ancient arts, restaurants, cafes, and Casa Manila Museum, dedicated to life of local aristocracy. Manila also boasts of its Japanese and Chinese gardens as well as city planetarium.

An unusual Ermita district is worth separate mentioning. Located not far from Rizal Park and the Manila bay, it offers lots of hotels, snackbars, night restaurants, pubs under the blue sky, trendy stores, antique shops… When walking around Ermita, tourists are advised to visit a bookstore on Padre Faura Street and Nayong Filipino village – an exhibition in the open air with lots of miniature village buildings that reflect culture peculiarities of different parts of the archipelago. The National Museum of the Philippines will acquaint you with arts and handicrafts produced by local minority groups. This is just the place to buy souvenirs.

Makati district is Manilas business centre – however, its only attraction is Ayala museum. Manila also has its own “Manhattan” – the citys business and financial centre, its own “Montmartre” (Mabini street) where the artistic Bohemia lives and its own “Soho” – the “sin streets” next to the city port. In Chinese district, there are more than a million of Chinese people living with their own traditions, customs and the way of life. Facades of local houses are covered with advertisement: Chinatown sells, creates, entertains, cures, tells your fortune… Many “European Manila” citizens come here to make a phaeton drive or taste real Chinese food.

You will also find an unusual means of transport in Manila, which you are not likely to see anywhere else. After the Second World War Americans sold their jeeps to the Philippine citizens. These cars were converter into “route taxis” and now drive along the Manila streets and other Philippine cities.