Located in the midst of Manila, Rizal Park is an expanse of greenery in the capital of the Philippines. The park was created as a tribute to the memory of Jose Rizal, a Filipino polymath, poet, novelist and freedom activist whose untimely death at the hands of a Spanish firing squad made him a martyr and national hero.
At the centre of the park the visitor will see Rizal’s monument, crafted in bronze and dating to 1913. It is a few feet away from the marker which indicates the precise site of the execution. A guard of honour patrols the site 24 hours a day; these ceremonial soldiers are called ‘Kabalyeros de Rizal’, or Knights of Rizal. ‘Mi Ultimo Adios’ (My Final Farewell) composed by Rizal in his period of captivity prior to his execution is inscribed behind the monument. It is almost mandatory for visiting dignitaries to lay a wreath at the monument.
Today Rizal Park is a popular rest and recreation site, with many Filipinos and tourists alike visiting the park on holidays. Rizal Park features historical markers, gardens, an observatory, a grand stadium, plazas, a sound and light theatre, an artists’ sanctuary, an open-air concert hall, food kiosks, restaurants, many fountains and playgrounds. Overlooking the scenic Manila Bay, Rizal Park is situated amidst Manila’s bustling commercial, financial, institutional and industrial hubs.
The park is arranged in three sections starting with the Agrifina Circle which adjoins Taft Avenue, where the National Museum of the Filipino People and the Department of Tourism are situated; next to which is found the main section of the park spanning 22 hectares which stretches up to Roxas Boulevard; followed by an expansive open field which forms the final section of the park.
The lofty 31 meter flagpole which proudly flies the Philippine flag at the park is known as kilometer zero, as this is the location from which the distance to the cities and towns of the country are measured.
Not to be missed is the open air theatre presentation which dramatizes the tragic final hours of Jose Rizal’s life, featuring eight imposing sculptural clusters in a vivid sound and light tableau.
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