World Heritage Sites of the Philippines

The famous Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines
There are currently five World Heritage Sites listed in the Philippines. World Heritage Sites are places listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as being of special cultural or physical significance.

Here are the World Heritage Sites. They are classified as either “Cultural” or “Natural”.


Cultural World Heritage Sites


Baroque Churches of the Philippines (added in 1993)

Paoay ChurchThese four churches are in Manila, Santa Maria, Paoay and Miag-ao. They were all built over a period of 150 years, the earliest being in the late 16th century. Their unique architectural style is a reinterpretation of European Baroque by Chinese and Philippine craftsmen.

“This group of churches established a style of building and design that was adapted to the physical conditions in the Philippines and had an important influence on later church architecture in the region. The four churches are outstanding examples of the Philippine interpretation of the Baroque style, and represent the fusion of European church design and construction with local materials and decorative motifs to form a new church-building tradition.”  (World Heritage Convention)

Vigan from a Calesa

Historic Town of Vigan (added in 1999)

This town, located close to the north-east tip of Luzon and established in the 16th century, is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its blends cultural elements from the Philippines, China and Europe, resulting in a unique culture and townscape not found elsewhere.

The famous Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines

Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (added in 1995)

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras are located in remote areas of the Cordillera mountain range on the northern island of Luzon. The rice terraces, built by the Ifugao ethnic group, date back two thousand years. They cover an extensive area however the official heritage site consists of five clusters of the most intact and impressive terraces.


Natural World Heritage Sites


Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (added in 1999)

Tourists at the Puerto Princesa Underground River, Palawan, Philippines

This national park featuring spectacular limestone karst landscape is located in the province of Palawan to the northwest of the capital Puerto-Princesa. The topography varies from flat plains to rolling hinterlands and hills to mountain peaks.  An underground river flows through the site (8.2 km) and contains many speleotherms and several large chambers (up to 120m wide and 60 m high). This heritage site contains a full “mountain-to-sea” ecosystem and is a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation.


Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (added in 1993)

Aged turtle in TubbatahaThis Natural Park covers an area of almost 100,000 hectares in the centre of the Sulu Sea including the Tubbataha and Jessie Beazley Reefs as well as an area of deep sea. The park contains a diverse variety of marine life including whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles, and Napoleon wrasse. In all, the reef ecosystems support more than 350 species of coral and close to 500 species of fish.


More information on the World Heritage Sites in the Philippines is available from:

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