Just beyond the southern walls of Intramuros (the closest LRT station is UN Avenue), the National Gallery (t02/527-1215) is the foremost art museum in the Philippines, housed in the grand old Legislative Building on the northern edge of Rizal Park. Galleries are laid out thematically in rather desultory fashion over two floors, but each one is relatively small and easy to digest. The highlights are paintings by Filipino masters including Juan Luna (1859–99), Félix Hidalgo (1855–1913), José Joya (1931–95) and Fernando Amorsolo (1892–1972), with the most famous works displayed in the Hall of the Masters near the entrance; Luna’s vast and magnificent Spolarium (1884) is here, a thinly veiled attack in oils on the atrocities of the Spanish regime, portraying fallen gladiators being dragged onto a pile of corpses.

Other galleries are dedicated to National Artist award winners (Amorsolo was the first in 1972), showcasing Joya’s Origins and Amorsolo’s Portrait of President Manuel Roxas. There’s also a section on architect Juan Arellano (1888–1960), who designed the building (completed in 1926), and a special gallery dedicated to the large Juan Luna collection; look out for his haunting Mother in Bed and the simple naturalism of Study for Rice Harvesting. The second floor contains mostly minor works from modern Filipino artists, and also a Bones Gallery where a huge sperm whale skeleton takes pride of place.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Philippines features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Modern Bangkok, historical Hanoi and tourism-boom town Siem Reap — home to the world-famous Angkor Wat temples — are some of Southeast Asia's best drawcards…

21 Nov 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
A postcard from the Philippines: saving the tarsiers in Bohol

A postcard from the Philippines: saving the tarsiers in Bohol

Tarsiers are the world's smallest primate – and 20 years ago they were dangerously close to extinction. But numbers are rising in Bohol, in the Philippines…

03 Nov 2017 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
Is Camiguin the most beautiful island you've never heard of?

Is Camiguin the most beautiful island you've never heard of?

The Philippines has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the last few years. From Typhoon Yolanda, the superstorm which left a band of destruction fro…

02 Oct 2017 • Mike MacEacheran insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook