This attractive walled park, perfect for walking and picnics, was once a burial ground for cholera victims and the city’s wealthiest inhabitants.
Paco Park is a popular spot for walking, picnics, weddings and concerts. The park is a former cemetery built to inter the victims of a serious cholera outbreak in 1820. During Spanish colonial times the graveyard was the final resting place of many Spanish and Filipino aristocrats. No longer a burial ground, the area was declared a national park in 1966.
Go through the stone arch entrance to explore the park’s pathways and manicured lawns. See the original burial site of Filipino nationalist Dr. Jose Rizal. His remains were interred here before being moved to the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park. Other important burial sites of Filipino national heroes include those of three priests who were executed for alleged roles in an 1872 uprising against Spanish authorities.
Paco Park is encircled by two thick stone walls that contain burial niches. View these built-in vaults. They used to contain corpses and some are still occupied, although many lie empty. Take the steps to the walkway on top of the walls. It is a good vantage point to view the entire park.
Visit the oval-shaped Chapel of St. Pancratius. This small domed church in the center of the park houses a mausoleum of a former Spanish Governor General. Masses are conducted here every Sunday. Take a break from your tour and sit by the fountain, in a private alcove or on one of the benches dotted around this recreational space.
A good time to visit the park is on Friday evenings for “Paco Park Presents”. This weekly series of free concerts and cultural events is organized by the Department of Tourism. For details of who will be performing during your stay in the city, go to the website of the National Parks Development Committee.
Paco Park is located in the Paco district of Manila, a short walk from Manila Bay and Rizal Park. The nearest train station is on United Nations Avenue, which runs adjacent to the park.
Paco Park is open every day. It’s free to enter.