Picturesquely situated on the banks of Pasig River down JP Laurel Street in San Miguel Manila, lies a cultural and political landmark that has come to define the identity of Philippines. With its likeness etched on the back of every 20 peso note in the country the presidential residence dubbed the Malacañan Palace is one of the capital’s most popular tourist attractions.Originally constructed to serve as a resplendent summer home for Spanish aristocrat Don Luis Rocha the sprawling mansion was taken over by a Spanish governor general before it was converted in to the country’s presidential palace.

Built as far back as 150 years ago in the 18th century, the palace’s architectural leanings are decidedly neocolonial, closely resembling Washington D.C’s White House complex in stature. Considered the official seat of government and the residence of the ruling president the palace is perhaps best known as the home of infamous Imelda Marcos’s excessive shoe collection when Ferdinand Marcos served as the Philippine president.

Having entertained dignitaries the likes of former US President George W. Bush the palace is an iconic fixture in the Philippine identity with its grand ballrooms, lavish rooms and historic collection of culturally and politically significant relics.
Divided in to seven sections the highlights within the structure include the main palace and Bonifacio Hall which housed the former offices of past presidents Joseph Estrada, Corazon Aquino and Ferdinand Marcos. The Kalayaan Hall, American period executive building and the Mabini Hall administrative structure are other points of interest while the New Executive Building and the majestic staircase are also worth exploring. Malacañang Palace’s presidential study is another key feature as it closely resembles the White House’s Oval Office.

The Malacañang Museum is located within the Kalayaan Hall and contains collections pertaining to the legacies of the nation’s past rulers. Divided in to galleries the chronologically arranged exhibits span the history of the Philippines from the Spanish era to the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. Several personal collections belonging to the presidents are also displayed here and features curious items such as the ridding boots of President Ramon Magsaysay, Gloria Arroyo’s necklaces, the chess set of President Carlos P. Garcia and keepsakes from Fidel V. Ramos.

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