London has the crown jewels, Paris has the Mona Lisa and Manila has Imelda Marcos' shoe collection.

In a city little known for tourist attractions, the Marikina City Footwear Museum is a bright spot, annually attracting thousands of visitors curious to see the treasure trove of shoes amassed by the Philippines' shopaholic former first lady.

"Remove Imelda's shoes and this museum would be nothing," said tourism officer Mario Villanueva.

"Curiosity about Imelda's shoes does not wane."


Lined up in glass display cases, the collection of 758 pairs includes black leather boots, silk brocade stilettos and leather slingbacks by local designers as well as world-famous names such as Chanel, Charles Jourdan, Bally and Bruno Magli.

The shoes worn when the 5 foot 8 inch (1.7 meter) former beauty queen met India's Indira Gandhi and Cuba's Fidel Castro are here, along with the black espadrilles she wore fleeing Manila in disgrace on board a US military helicopter in 1986.

About 1200 pairs of shoes were said to have been found in the presidential palace after Imelda and her late husband, Ferdinand Marcos, fled the country following a popular revolt.

Once feared, the 77-year old widow, who returned to the Philippines in 1991, is viewed by many Filipinos as an eccentric figure of fun.

Imelda opened the museum in Marikina, the home of the Philippine shoe industry in the east of Metro Manila, in 2001.

The 202-year-old building was a rice granary during the Spanish colonial period and a warehouse for arsenal during the Japanese occupation in World War Two.

Villanueva said it took the museum two years to accumulate the footwear. But there's plenty more to be had.

A spokeswoman for Imelda said her current shoe collection runs to around 5000 pairs, most of which were presents from admirers.