Yes, We Do Have Castles In The Philippines

No royalty? No problem.
IMAGE Wikimedia Commons - Ninya Regalado / SanJoSugbu

Castles aren't uncommon in Europe, but they're a rarity in the Philippines. Many people consider Malacañang Palace to be the only legitimate castle in the country, but there are many other architectural feats in the country that show off a kind of palatial majesty (royal blood not required).

These “castles” are a testament to the ingenuity of Filipinos in terms of architecture and design. Some of them are magnificent, some a little too fantastical, some are old, some are young, some are well taken care of while others are left to ruin, but all are pretty majestic.

Riverstone Castle in Argao, Cebu

In 2002, the Galeos family, Cebuano locals, and their Norwegian and Belgian friends got together and decided they wanted to boost ecotourism in Argao. Their idea? Get some stones from the river and build a castle! The castle, complete with a drawbridge, spiral staircases, armored knights, and a torture chamber in the basement, quickly became a local tourist attraction. 

Aside from being a picture-friendly spot, the castle actually doubles as a resort with pool, an underground restaurant, a wine cellar, wishing wells, and more.


The Ruins in Talisay City, Bacolod

IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons - Ninya Regalado

The Ruins may just be a shell of its former glory but this heritage structure has a fascinating history. A castle in its own right, The Ruins is actually a mansion, the former family residence of Don Mariano Lacson.

In 1911, Don Mariano’s wife, Maria Braganza, passed away. Don Mariano, in his grief, built a castle of a mansion on their 440-hectare sugar plantation in Talisay, thus earning the project the nickname “The Taj Mahal of Negros.” Originally called the Nutsberry Garden, it was designed by an Italian architect and was completed in 1920. The mansion was purposely burned down to spare it from being used by the Japanese during the war. The house officially opened to the public in 2008.

Tai Castle in Taal, Tagaytay

Also known as Tagaytay Castle House, this palatial home set its Hong Kong-based Filipino owner back P30 million. The house’s facade is made to look like a medieval castle complete with a sword in the facade. The house is fronted by a red carpeted grand staircase while the dining room is modeled like a traditional banquet hall. Some of the furniture is even plated in gold.

This castle has four guest rooms and a master’s bedroom that's actually a suite. The latter comes complete with a tub, a terrace, a sala, a powder room, and a living room. The house also has a library, a family room, a kitchen, and a maid’s room. A rooftop swimming pool gives it a dash of modernity.

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Temple of Leah in Busay, Cebu City

If The Ruins is the Taj Mahal of Bacolod, the Temple of Leah is the Taj Mahal of Cebu. The Temple of Leah is located in a 5,000-square meter estate, with a gate that opens to a driveway and main courtyard. The eye-catching granite floors, a pair of golden lions, and a marble fountain greet visitors.

The nine-foot bronze statue of Leah is the main attraction, an homage to Leah Albino-Adarna, the late wife of Teodorico Soriano Adarna–grandparents of actress Ellen Adarna. The family is known to own the chain of Queensland Motels in Cebu. 

The structure itself is seven stories high with 24 chambers filled with Leah’s personal collection of books, Chinese jars, and antiques. Unlike other castles which look for more gothic and medieval inspirations, the Temple of Leah is inspired by Roman architecture, noticeable in its columns and statues.

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Tropicana Castle in Puerto Galera 

The Tropicana is an idyllic palace situated on top of the hill and overlooks the Sabang Bay. Visitors gush over the exteriors of the “castle” as well as the resort rooms that are designed to fit royalty. Bathtubs are made of marble and beds are luscious and picturesque four-posters. 

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Fantasy World in Lemery, Batangas  

This Bavarian-inspired castle is set in an abandoned theme park which could have been the “Disneyland of the Philippines” or at least, a world-class resort. The castle, aging but well-maintained, is a shadow of what it could've been. Now, curious visitors use it mostly as a photo-op.


Shrine of Simala in Sibonga, Cebu

IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons - SanJoSugbu 

From afar, the Shrine of Simala may look like a castle, but it’s actually a monastery. Look closer and you can see a cross on top of its taller towers. In another tower, one can also see the Virgin Mary greeting its visitors. Also known as the Castle of Faith and Monastery of the Holy Eucharist, this palatial place of worship is also the shrine for Our Lady of Lindogon.

Originally, the image of the virgin was brought by monks to Simala in 1990, after the Pinatubo eruption. The castle, however, was built in 1998 by the the congregation of Marian Monks of Eucharistic Adoration. During this time, the town suffered an epidemic and the Virgin of Lindogon apparently made evident its miraculous powers.


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LOOK: Temple of Leah, the Taj Mahal of Cebu

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Nicai de Guzman
Nicai de Guzman is the Head of Marketing of Rising Tide, one of the fastest-growing mobile and digital advertising technology companies in the Philippines. She also writes for and
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