Heritage Sites

The Royal Street of Iloilo: Calle Real


Belle Piccio
Belle Piccio | May 20, 2014

J.M. Basa Street marker; photo courtesy of ABS-CBN Iloilo

JM Basa Street, or popularly known as “Calle Real,” is Iloilo City’s historic center.

J.M. Basa Street; photo courtesy of ABS-CBN Iloilo

J.M. Basa Street; photo courtesy of ABS-CBN Iloilo

Declared as a heritage site of Iloilo, the Downtown Iloilo City Heritage District, this is where you can see old buildings that were constructed during the Commonwealth era along J.M. Basa, Iznart, Aldeguer and Guanco.

It’s like exploring in a museum. You’ll see old buildings that were built during the late Spanish era that survived World War II and have fended off the ravages of time.

The street has served as a shopping district and entertainment center since 1930.

Regent Building; photo courtesy of ABS-CBN Iloilo

S. Villanueva Building

S. Villanueva Building

Calle Real is also called "Escolta," similar to Manila's own historic street of commerce. It is referred to as “Calle Real” or “Royal Street” because the street stretches from Plaza Libertad (Plaza Alfonso XII) going to the Plazoleta Gay, as well as to the Iloilo Provincial Capitol (also known as Casa Real) going to Iloilo’s elite residences.

A building built in 1950-1951.

Ng Chen Beng Hermos Builing

Ng Chen Beng Hermos Builing built in 1922

It's believed that Dr. Rizal had the chance to visit Escolta and the Molo Church when Rizal’s boat, the S.S. España, arrived at Iloilo. "The liveliness of the Escolta pleased me," said the national hero.


Here’s an excerpt from ilongo.weebly.com about Dr. Jose Rizal when he was passing through Iloilo on his way from Dapitan to Manila on August 4, 1986:

"Dr. Jose Rizal was much impressed by the appearance of the city. He wrote: 'The entrance to Iloilo is beautiful. From afar can be seen the white city set in water, a nymph of galvanized iron, a modern creation, poetic in spirit of its iron uniform.'"


Built in 1913

The buildings of Calle Real have witnessed Iloilo’s misfortunes and grandeur. They are reminders to the Ilonggos of their contribution to Philippine culture.


Built in 1922

How to Get There

From Manila, you can fly to Iloilo (estimated cost of Php3,000++, round trip, one hour). From Iloilo Airport, you can hail a cab and ask to be dropped off at your destination.

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