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Rediscovering Manila: Fort Santiago, Intramuros

       Fort Santiago is a citadel first built by Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi. Our national hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned here before he was executed in Luneta in December 30, 1896. The thought of seeing where Rizal was imprisoned excites me. If you're visiting Intramuros, you should not miss Fort Santiago.

Main Gate
      According to the inscription at the main gate, it was built in 1571, on the site of the native settlement of Raja Soliman. The first fort was a palisaded structure of logs and earth. Destroyed in the Limahong attack in 1574. Stone fort built between 1589 and 1592 and damaged in 1654 earthquake. It was then repaired and strengthened from 1658 to 1663. It became the headquarters of the British occupation army from 1762 to 1764. Repaired and renovated in 1778.

At the back of the main gate

       It was also the former headquarters of the Philippine Division of US Army. Occupied by the Japanese military in 1942 where hundreds of civilians and guerillas were imprisoned, tortured and executed. Destroyed in the Battle of Manila in 1945. It was used as depot of the US Transportation Corps before turnover to the Philippine Government in 1946. Declared Shrine of Freedom in 1950. Restoration and maintenance of the fort began in 1951 under the National Park Development was turned over to the Intramuros Adminiostration in 1992.

Baluartillo de San Francisco Javier
       Built in 1662 as part of the seafront defense line of Intramuros. Original rampart extended as curtain wall after a section was destroyed in the 1645 earthquake. Reducto built in 1773 by military engineer Dionisio O' Kelly. Also called Reducto de Santiago. Finished in 1775. Used as storage chambers. It became part of the Manila Arsenal of the US Army.

      Severely damaged in the Battle of Manila in 1945, Baluartillo was restored in 1950's and Reducto in 1983.

Plaza Armas
        There is a small plaza inside the Fort Santiago which features a small statue of Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero. It is one of two major plazas in Intramuros, the other being the central Plaza de Roma (also called "Plaza de Armas" at one point in its history), and is the central plaza of Fort Santiago.

Dambanang Rizal sa Fort Santiago
      Fort Santiago is the host to Rizal Shrine that houses the important memorabilia, copy of his Mi Ultimo Adios, art works and collections, the clothes he wore and many more.

Baluarte de Santa Barbara
       Named after the patron saint of artillerymen. Built in 1592 to protect the entrance to the Pasig River. Vaults and powder magazine added in 1599. Quarters of the artillerymen and the house of the commandant (Casa del Castellano) built in 1609. Renovation and reconstruction from 1729-1745, including building of the semi-circular platform (media naranja).

A sneak peek inside, so eerie!
       The US Army headquarters built in 1904. Occupied by Japanese Army in 1942. Storage cells and powder magazine used as dungeons for hundreds of prisoners who were killed at the end of the war. Severely damaged during the Battle of Manila in 1945. Restored from 1951-1967, in 1991 and 1998.

Last Walk to Martyrdom Trail
       To commemorate the centennial of Dr. Jose Rizal's martyrdom, the National Centennial Commsission and the Department of Tourism have introduced Rizal's shoeprints embedded in the pavement and placed markers in  areas where he passed on his way to Bagumbayan from his cell in Fort Santiago.

Rajah Sulayman Theater
       This is an open air theater under the grounds of Fort Santiago which was ruins of a former Spanish military barracks. It had served as a highly atmospheric setting for contemporary theater-in-the-round productions by PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association). It was designed and conceptualized by Guidote. It was named Rajah Sulayman in honor of the leader of the Mohammedan Malays who first inhabited the area.

Plaza Moriones
       The Plaza Moriones is a promenade inside Fort Santiago during the 19th century which has been used in celebration of different occasions since the time of the Spaniards. This plaza has an ample array of foliage which provides a soothing atmosphere for an amazing and traditional Philippine wedding celebration. The Trellis, adjacent to the Plaza Moriones is a gazebo-like pathway ornamented with hanging bougainvilleas and red, brick flooring.

       Then there's this old Spanish cannon. It's a reminder how powerful Spanish people are before and how brave Filipinos are. It's a memento of the past.

How to get there?
        This is few minutes walk from the Manila Cathedral. Entrance fee is PHP75 for adults and PHP50 for children and students. If you don't know how to get here in Intramuros, kindly check my other blog about Intramuros.

       There was some point I had some strange feeling while walking around inside especially when I peek inside the Baluarte de Santa Barbara. I'm trying to imagine the situation when Rizal was detained there hundred years ago. It felt like the time was turning back. It's so surreal, This place is a must-see. -Jon-


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