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Bohol, located in the central Philippines, is a treasure trove of heritage structures that reflect its rich and diverse history.
From centuries-old churches to imposing forts and monuments, the island boasts an impressive collection of architectural marvels that are worth exploring.
In this page, we'll take a closer look at the top heritage structures in Bohol that should be on every traveler's itinerary.
The Punta Cruz Watchtower, located in the town of Maribojoc, is a 17th-century fortification that served as a lookout point during the Spanish colonial era. The watchtower, made of coral stone, stands on a hill overlooking the sea and provides a stunning view of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can climb the narrow stairs to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of the coast.
Dauis Church, located in the town of Dauis, is a charming stone church that dates back to the 18th century. Its facade features intricate stone carvings and a bell tower that stands apart from the main structure. Inside the church, visitors can admire the intricately designed wooden altars, stained glass windows, and a ceiling fresco depicting the Last Judgment.
Balilihan Watchtower: The Balilihan Watchtower is a well-preserved structure that served as a defensive lookout during the Spanish colonial period. Located in Balilihan town, it offers panoramic views of the landscape and was strategically positioned to spot any approaching threats.
MT. CARMEL HILL, Balilihan
Located 24 km from Tagbilaran City. Atop the Mt. Carmel Hill, right in the heart of Balilihan town, is a historical tower of adobe and limestone. These materials were hauled from the town of Baclayon. It was built to serve as a belfry of a church which was burned down during the Philippine revolution. Like a sentinel, the tower stands as guard over the town. Concrete stairways were built to make the tower more accessible.
The Panglao Watchtower, located on the island of Panglao, is a 19th-century heritage structure that served as a lookout point against pirate attacks. The watchtower, made of coral stone, stands on a hill overlooking the sea and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area. Visitors can climb the stairs to the top of the tower for a spectacular view of the coast and nearby islands.
The Loay Watchtower, located in the town of Loay, is a 19th-century heritage fortification that served as a lookout point during the Spanish colonial era. The watchtower, made of coral stone, stands on a hill overlooking the Loboc River and provides a stunning view of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can climb the narrow stairs to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of the river and the nearby mangrove forest.
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Baclayon Church, located in the town of Baclayon, is one of the oldest stone churches in the Philippines. Built by Jesuit missionaries in 1595, the heritage church is an excellent example of Spanish colonial architecture, with its intricate carvings, ceiling frescoes, and religious paintings. The church also houses a museum that displays religious artifacts, antique vestments, and historical documents.
The San Pedro Apostol Church in Loboc is a well-known religious landmark in Bohol. It dates back to the early 17th century and displays a captivating combination of Baroque and Neo-Gothic architectural influences. The heritage church is known for its massive stone façade and intricately carved wooden altars.
The Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish Church, also known as the Loon Church, was built in the 19th century. This magnificent heritage church showcases Baroque-influenced architecture with intricate details and ornate designs. The façade features elaborate carvings, statues, and reliefs, while the interior boasts a grand altar adorned with religious icons and beautifully painted ceilings.
The Santa Cruz Church, located in Maribojoc, is one of the oldest churches in Bohol. Built in the early 19th century, it features a charming combination of heritage Baroque and Rococo architectural styles. The church is renowned for its massive coral stone structure and beautiful ceiling murals.
Dimiao Church, located in the town of Dimiao, is a Baroque-style church that was built in the 18th century. The heritage church's facade features intricate stone carvings, while its interior boasts elaborate altars, ceiling frescoes, and a pipe organ. The church also houses a museum that displays religious artifacts, including an 18th-century ivory statue of the Immaculate Conception.
Situated in Dauis, Bohol, the Shrine Parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Complex is a significant religious site. The heritage complex includes the Assumption Church, known for its striking mosaic façade depicting scenes from the life of Mary. It also houses various liturgical objects of cultural and historical value. The shrine's architecture showcases elements of modern design blended with traditional Filipino motifs.
The Blood Compact Monument, located in the town of Tagbilaran, commemorates the historic blood compact between Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and local chieftain Datu Sikatuna in 1565. The monument features a bronze sculpture of the two leaders, engaged in the traditional sandugo (blood compact) ceremony. The heritage site also offers a panoramic view of the sea and nearby islands.
The Dagohoy Marker, located in the town of Danao, commemorates the heroic act of Francisco Dagohoy, who led a rebellion against the Spanish colonial government in the 18th century. The heritage marker is a simple stone structure that stands on a hill, overlooking the town. Visitors can climb the stairs to the top of the marker for a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
Fort San Pedro
Fort San Pedro, located in the town of Cortes, is a 17th-century fortification that served as a defense against Moro raids. The heritage fort, made of coral stone, features thick walls and cannons that once protected the town against invaders. Today, the fort serves as a popular tourist attraction, offering visitors a glimpse into the island's colonial past.
PRESIDENT CARLOS P. GARCIA MEMORIAL PARK, Tagbilaran City
A joint undertaking of Boholanos from all over the country and abroad have erected a park in loving memory of the greatest Boholano -- Carlos Polestico Garcia, the fourth President of the Republic of the Philippines. It sits on a rolling site with an area of 11 hectares chosen by Pres. Carlos P. Garcia himself in 1939 when he was still the governor of Bohol. Here, one can see the exquisite heritage monument of marble base and a life-size bronze statue by Bohol's famous sculptor and a National Artist Napoleon Abueva. The said park is located in front of Bohol Wisdom School.
BEHIND THE CLOUDS, Catigbian
38 km from Tagbilaran City. This is the cradle of the resistance movement in Bohol during the Japanese occupation when a group of courageous men composed of disbanded soldiers and ordinary citizens started guerilla operations to liberate the island. The heritage encampment nestles in a deep ravine hidden from the enemy. When opposition headquarters were transferred to Carmen, the encampment was used to hold enemy prisoners.
Bohol is a fascinating destination for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts. Its rich heritage and architectural marvels are a testament to its diverse history and cultural influences. From centuries-old churches to imposing forts and monuments, the island has a lot to offer. This guide provides a glimpse into the top heritage structures in Bohol that should be on every traveler's itinerary. So, pack your bags, and get ready to discover the island's fascinating history and culture.