Fort Pilar Museum

Top choice in Mindanao

At the southeastern end of town near the waterfront is this solid and squat building, partially restored to maintain its historic character. Inside is a museum with several impressive and recently renovated galleries. The marine exhibit includes some sophisticated displays, and across the inner courtyard is a terrific ethnographic gallery on the boat-dwelling Sama Dilaut (otherwise known as the Badjao, or sea gypsies). Walk around the ramparts for 360-degree views of Zamboanga City and the busy ocean.

Other galleries include an exhibition of 18th- and 19th-century prints and the 'Southern Philippines: Portal and Nexus of Barter Trade & Exchange'. The fort's chequered past is also worth noting: founded by the Spaniards in 1635; attacked by the Dutch in 1646; deserted in 1663; reconstructed in 1666; rebuilt in 1719; stormed by 3000 Moros in 1720; cannonaded by the British in 1798; abandoned by the Spaniards in 1898; occupied by the US in 1899; seized by the Japanese in 1942; and, finally, claimed by the Philippines in 1946.

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