Iloilo City is the capital of the independently-governed Iloilo province, located on the southeastern coast of Panay Island in the Philippines. It is a small yet influential, quaint yet progressive city known for the high number of well-preserved heritage buildings, tasty seafood and jubilant festivals. The Spanish colonial period left behind an indelible mark on the Iloilo province, which is distinctly visible in the architecture, culture, cuisine, festivities and the lifestyle of the Ilonggos. The historical landmarks in Iloilo city like the ancient mansions, churches, museums, and heritage houses preserved from the Spanish times give an insight into the rich history and culture of the Iloilo City. So, if you are planning to book flights to Iloilo, do not miss to include these historical landmarks in Iloilo city in your itinerary, because knowledge about the history of a place is crucial to truly admire the land from the core.
Also known as ‘The Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, ‘the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles’ and ‘Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral, it was built in 1864 and is the first and only cathedral in the Iloilo province. Recognized as a historical landmark by the National Historical Institute of the Philippines, the colonial church showcases baroque architecture to which Gothic elements are added during restoration post damage due to the earthquake in 1948.
The 400-year-old Marian image of the Lady of Candles is the only female shrined in the cathedral whose main walls hold the statues of male saints. Legend says that the limestone of the Marian image grows over time. Another unique quality of this cathedral is that the belfry is situated in front of the cathedral, unlike its typical placement beside the church. Many devotees visit this historical landmark in Iloilo during February to be a part of the religious event “Feast of Our Lady of Candle!”
Old Iloilo City Hall:
One of the prominent historical landmarks in Iloilo is the Old Iloilo City Hall. It served different roles before it was donated by the Iloilo City counsel to the University of the Philippines. During Japanese colonization, the invaders used the building as their garrison and later it served as a city hall. Currently, it is the Main Building of the University of the Philippines.
The Neo-Classic architecture of the building is the creation of the famous Filipino architect ‘Juan Arellano’. The CourtRoom and the Session Hall, the arched windows, high ceilings, impressive dome, and spacious patios depict the influence of Spanish architecture. The six magnificent sculptures designed by Francesco Riccardo Monti at the entrance of the hall are intended to represent the concept of Law and Order. It was declared as the national Historical Landmark by The National Historical Institute in 2009.
If the Jaro Cathedral is ‘male-themed’, then Molo Church, also called St. Anne Parish Church is the feminist church. In fact, the former was built as a rival to the Molo church which houses 16 images of female saints that line either side of the church’s main aisle. Locally popular as the ‘Women Church,’ it was constructed in 1831 and was honored as a national landmark by the National Historical Institute.
This church, a very old historical landmark in Iloilo, had valiantly stood the test of the times and survived several earthquakes. It had also rescued the citizens who took shelter in the building during World War I. The architecture is primarily Spanish influenced; it is a Gothic colonial church constructed using white coral rocks. The red spires, a total of 30 bells of two belfries that ring musically, the wooden altars, mural painting on the walls and ceiling make it one of the beautiful churches in the city.
One of the best examples of timeless beauty is the Molo Mansion, also known as The Yusay-Consing Mansion. It was neglected for a long time until the SM Group owned and majestically restored the dilapidated mansion to its previous glory. This historical landmark in Iloilo is now a heritage museum facing the Molo Church and the Molo Plaza. The semi-circular structure, intricate colonial architecture, fine carvings, and wooden floors are quite impressive and the photographers are often found outside capturing the spectacular view of the royal two-story villa standing in the opulent green lawn.
The SM Kultura store, cultural shops and souvenir shops exhibit locally made merchandise, fashion items, accessories, crafts, jewelry, etc. The garden cafe is the favourite spot of most tourists who enjoy the local delicacies marveling at the grand structure standing in front of them.
Casa Real De Iloilo:
One more historical landmark in Iloilo recognized as the National Historic Site by the National Historical Institute is Casa Real De Iloilo. Also known as ‘The Old Capitol Building of Iloilo,’ Casa Real De Iloilo is located in the heart of the city facing the Arroyo Fountain.
The old edifice constructed during the Spanish era was completely made of wood and stone and the renovation project used concrete to reconstruct the building. It served as the official center for 18 Spanish and 29 Filipino governors. The popular royal building, the cultural and historical landmark in Iloilo, now functions as a venue for many remarkable events.