Manila City Hall

Manila City Hall

The Manila City Hall as seen from Padre Burgos Avenue
General information
Status Complete
Type Government building
Location Corners of Taft Avenue, Padre Burgos Avenue and Villegas Street, Ermita, Manila, Philippines
Coordinates 14°35′23″N 120°58′54″E / 14.589793°N 120.981617°E / 14.589793; 120.981617Coordinates: 14°35′23″N 120°58′54″E / 14.589793°N 120.981617°E / 14.589793; 120.981617
Completed August 19,1941
Opening 1941
Owner City of Manila
Management City of Manila
Design and construction
Architect Antonio M. Toledo
Developer City of Manila

The Manila City Hall (Filipino: Gusaling Panlungsod ng Maynila) is located in the historic center of Ermita, Manila. It is where the Mayor of Manila holds office and the chambers of the Manila City Council.[2] It was originally intended to be a part of a national government center envisioned by Daniel Burnham in the 1930s. Although the dream plan was not fully implemented, some buildings for the proposed government center was constructed, including the Old Legislative Building (now the National Art Gallery), and the Agriculture and Finance Buildings (presently the Museum of the Filipino People and Museum of National History).


The clock tower of the Manila City Hall
Manila City Hall at Night

The Manila City Hall during 1901 was made up of Oregon-pine which covered one third of the area used by the current building. After 31 years of occupancy, City Engineer Santiago Artiaga suggested to reinforce the floor of the weakened structure supporting the session hall used by the municipal board and avoid the accommodation of too many people along the corridors and in the hallway.[2]

In 1941, right before the destruction of Manila, a City Hall of a national capital was constructed. This was designed by Antonio Toledo, the same architect who built the Finance Building and Old Legislative Building which are both adjacent to the new City Hall. It was immediately destroyed by the war in February 1945. With the aid of the United States Army, Philippine Commonwealth Army and the city government, the new 8,422 square meter-City Hall was built which included around 200 rooms and uniform windows on all of the facade. It added an east wing which accommodated other offices.[2]

The building sits on a trapezoidal shape of the lot in between the Legislative and Post Office buildings. Due to the monotony of the building envelope, one cannot distinguish the principal facade from the main entrance properly. The south entrance has a balcony emphasized by three arches resting on Corinthian columns while the north entrance has the same design treatment but has pediments and a tall, hexagonal clock tower capped by a dome.[3]

All the trees inside and around the vicinity of the City Hall were planted by Manila Mayor Ramon Bagatsing during the early seventies.

Clock Tower

The clock tower, also designed by Antonio Toledo which was completed during the 1930s is the largest clock tower in the Philippines.[4] It stands out during nighttime when the whole of the tower lights up. Every hour, they rung the bell three times continued by a melody. It has now become the icon for the city of Manila.

Architectural Reviews

During its heyday, the Manila City Hall was criticized because of monotony, lack of entrances and the clock tower location. But after years of its continued existence, the critics praise the design for its original intent. As other people may view it as a casket when seen from an aerial standpoint, it was intentionally formed to look like a shield of the Knights Templar which symbolized that the country is under the influence and protection of the Roman Catholic Church.


  1. "Historical Landmarks". City of Manila. Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 de la Torre, Visitacion (1981). Landmarks of Manila: 1571-1930. Makati: Filipinas Foundation, Inc. pp. 19–20.
  3. Lico, Gerard (2008). Arkitekturang Filipino: A History of Architecture and Urbanism in the Philippines. Quezon City: The University of the Philippines Press. p. 291. ISBN 978-971-542-579-7.
  4. "Historical Landmarks: Manila City Hall". Retrieved June 2, 2014.
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