Skip to main content

The Walled City of Intramuros | Rediscovering Manila

       Intramuros (Spanish for "within the walls") is the oldest district and historic core of Manila, Philippines. It is also called the Walled City, and was once the seat of government when the Philippines was a component realm of the Spanish Empire. It was settled in June 12, 1571 and founded by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, a Spanish navigator. 

       Ever since I was a kid, I had always dreamed of exploring the Intramuros and see all those old buildings and ruins so that I can be reminded what life our ancestors had before. Below are must-see attractions inside the Intramuros.

One of the many entrances in Intramuros
Manila Cathedral
      The cathedral was originally the "church of Manila" officially established in 1571 by a secular priest, Juan de Vivero, who arrived in Manila Bay in 1566.De Vivero, the chaplain on the galleon of San Gerónimo, was sent by the Archbishop of Mexico, Alonso de Montúfar, to establish Christianity as the spiritual and religious administration in newly colonized Philippines. De Vivero later became the vicar-general and the first ecclesiastical judge of the city of Manila.

       Located at Plaza de Roma in the Intramuros district of the City of Manila, the cathedral was originally a parish church owned and governed by the Archdiocese of Mexico in 1571, until it became a separate diocese on 6 February 1579 upon the issuance of the papal bull, Illius Fulti Praesido by Pope Gregory XIII. The cathedral was damaged and destroyed several times since the original structure was built in 1581 while the eighth and current instance of the cathedral was finally completed in 1958. The cathedral is the home of the archbishop of Manila.

King Charles IV Monument
       At the center of Plaza de Roma is a monument to Charles IV of Spain which was erected in 1824 in his honor for having sent the first batch of smallpox vaccine to the Philippines.A fountain surrounding the monument was subsequently erected in 1886. However, in the 1960s, the monument was replaced with a monument dedicated to the Gomburza. In 1978, President Ferdinand Marcos ordered the restoration of the Plaza de Roma along with other sites in Intramuros. The work was completed by the then-newly established Intramuros Administration in 1980 and the original Charles IV was re-installed in the plaza in 1981. The Gomburza monument was subsequently relocated to the site fronting the National Art Gallery Building of the National Museum.

Ayuntamiento de Manila
       Construction of the Ayuntamiento began in 1599. The original building opened in 1607. After an earthquake damaged it severely, it was ordered demolished. The Ayuntamiento was rebuilt in 1738, in the Baroque style, with ornate wrought-iron balconies, covered arcades, and a central clock tower. This form survived well into the 19th century until it was destroyed again during the earthquake of 1863. Reconstruction of the Ayuntamiento began in 2009,with the building becoming the future home of the Bureau of the Treasury.

Palacio del Gobernador
       The Palacio del Gobernador ("Palace of the Governor") is a government building in Intramuros, Manila that currently houses the Commission on Elections. The site of the present building was where the former residence of the Governor-General during the Spanish Colonial Era was located until the until the Malacañang Palace was selected as the official residence.

San Agustin Church
       Augustinians decided to rebuild the church using stone, and to construct an adjacent monastery. Construction began in 1586, based on a design by Juan Macías. The monastery was operational by 1604, and the church was formally declared complete on January 19, 1607, and named St. Paul of Manila. Macías, who had died before the completion of the church, was officially acknowledged by the Augustinians as the builder of the edifice.

       In 1993, San Agustin Church was one of four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, under the collective title Baroque Churches of the Philippines. It was named a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1976.

Cuartel de Santa Lucia
        Here once stood the Cuartel de Santa Lucia. Formerly housed the Artilleria de la Montaña, a Spanish artillery regiment and office of the Guardia Civil Veterana. Became first headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary in 1901 and was called the PC BARRACKS.

       Officer's school was opened in 1904. Moved to Baguio in 1908 to become the Philippine Military Academy. Destroyed in 1945. Site occupied by a government office before it was abandoned. Facade reconstructed in 1998 by the Intramuros Administration.

Fort Santiago
       Then I visited Fort Santiago, 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. 
Fort Santiago full blog here.

Baluarte de San Diego
        In this baluarte is the oldest stone fort in Manila. Built in 1586, it was called the Nuestra Señora de Guia. Designed by Jesuit priest Antonio Sedeño. Fell into disrepair and renovated in 1593. Incorporated as part of the walls but later abandoned due to its unstable foundations.

       New baluarte constructed with orillons(curved corners) masking cannons on the flanks. Destroyed during the British invasion in 1762. Repaired and renovated in 1764. American army ordinance section built on site during American occupation.

       Destroyed during World War II. Fort Nuestra Señora de Guia was excavated in 1980 and is now a major attraction of the Walled City.

Baluarte de San Diego full blog here.

       Calesa is still visible in Intramuros. Calesa is a horse-drawn calash used in the Philippines. It was one mode of transportation introduced to the islands in the 18th century by Spanish colonizers, and was initially reserved for only nobles and high-ranking civic officials.These are today rarely used in the streets except in the tourist areas of old cities and some rural areas. Most tourists would prefer a calesa ride while touring around Intramuros.

One of the many fortifications in Intramuros
       These century-old walls will surely blow your mind. It's amazing  to see that they stood the tests of time for few hundred years now. I hope these can be preserved so the next generation can witness these wonders too.

Below are some of the buildings that caught my eye.

Kaisa Angelo King Heritage Center
       This is a mansion constructed in 1996. Although it was built in modern time, it is designed to resemble other buildings in Intramuros. It houses the Bahay Tsinoy (literally Chinese-Filipino House), a museum that documents the history, lives and contributions of the Chinese in the Philippine life and history.

       The museum was designed by Eva Penamora in collaboration with the late architect Honrado Fernandez in 1996, and completed and inaugurated in 1999. Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran, Inc., a non-profit organization co-founded by Teresita Ang-See, envisioned the project to provide another venue for advocating patriotism to the Philippines and promoting cultural identity and understanding between the local Chinese and Filipino communities, after the acclaimed bi-lingual children's educational television program Pinpin in the early 90's.

Casa Manila
       Casa Manila is a museum in Intramuros depicting colonial lifestyle during Spanish colonisation of the Philippines.The museum is the imposing stone-and-wood structure c. 1850, one of the grand houses in Barrio San Luis (one of the four original villages of Intramuros) is located across historic San Agustin church and bounded by Calle Real, General Luna, Cabildo and Urdaneta streets. The other two are the Los Hidalgos, c. 1650 and Cuyugan Mansion, c. 1890.
T.M.I. Center

How to get there?
       If you're coming from south, take the LRT1 to Central Terminal station. Follow the LRT1 along A. Villegas until you get to Natividad Almeda-Lopez (2 blocks). Landmarks are SM City Manila, Manila City Hall, and Philippine Veterans Affairs Office. Turn right at Natividad Almeda-Lopez, and walk past Manila City Hall towards Padre Burgos (1 block). Then cross Padre Burgos towards Intramuros. You can also take a jeep to Lawton/SM City Hall, and get off at Manila City Hall. Cross the street using the underpass, away from Manila City Hall towards Intramuros.

       If you're from Cubao or North area, ride the LRT 2 line and drop off at Recto Station. Then walks towards Quezon Blvd and ride a jeep with "Pier" sign on it. And you can always take a cab if that is more convenient for you.

       At more than 400 years old, we're lucky that Intramuros still exists. The city is well-maintained and I hope the next generation will be able to witness these amazing structures too so they can have a glimpse of the past. While we let bygones be bygones, we should sometimes look at the past to understand the present day situations. -Jon-


Popular posts from this blog

Diwata Imacoto Beach | Rediscovering Oas, Albay

Summer has got to be my favorite time of the year. It means a lot of torrid sunlight, a lot of sweating and dehydration at some point, but there are so many ways to beat it and the open sea is the key. Behind the lush mountains of my hometown Oas in Albay province lies a haven many would think doesn't exist, even an Oas native like me. Up above its coastal areas, a paradise is waiting to be rediscovered. There I found the Diwata Imacoto Beach in the barangay of Cagmanaba. Its name was derived from the owners surname. With its crystal clear waters, white sand, and tranquil atmosphere, everyone will find it a perfect place to unwind without having to spend that much. The place is under-developed and I must say it is whole lot better that way.

       There are many good beaches in Albay and  I'm just glad that my hometown had a good share of it. People from all over the town frequented this beach especially during summer. People from neighboring towns have also had experie…

Burj Park: A Patch of Green in Downtown Dubai

With all the massive and high-rise buildings spread all over the city, it's a breath of fresh air to find a green spot in the middle of the city where you can simply lie down in the grass under the shade of few trees while marveling at the ever changing skyline of Dubai. Just around the Burj Khalifa you'll find this tiny park called Burj Park.

       There are bicycles in the area that are up for rent. The place is also a venue for mini concerts and events. At the time I went here, there is a stage being set up for an event. The place is also ideal for yoga or zumba classes and provides a resting place for joggers around the area.
       Just beside the park is the newly opened Dubai Opera, a state-of-the-art venue for opera, theatre, concerts, art exhibitions, orchestra, film, sports events, and seasonal programmes in Downtown Dubai's Opera District. The stunning architecture adds to the already  amazing structure of the whole Downtown Dubai complex.

      In the …

Rediscovering Oas, Albay: Barangay Cagmanaba

Oas is a first class municipality in Albay province. I was born and had grew up there. Most of my fondest childhood memories were here. Up above its coastal areas, a paradise is waiting to be rediscovered. It's the barangay  of Cagmanaba. With its crystal clear waters, fine white sand, and islets, it could be the next top tourist attraction of the province. We're lucky to saw it in its still virgin state.
Where is Oas?
      Oas is in the Bicol peninsula, southeast of Luzon. From Manila, you can take a bus from the terminals in Cubao or Pasay and embark on a 10-hour journey to the south. Or, to make life easy, get on a plane to Legazpi City, hail a bus at Legazpi’s terminal and after an hour on the road, hop off at the public market of Oas. Well-traveled men and hobbits, when asked of places to see in Albay, would perhaps not mention this town. Their list, most likely, will include the regulars: the world-famous Mayon Volcano, the Cagsawa Ruins of Daraga, Misibis…

The Waterfall, Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall is more than just the largest mall in the world by total space. Aside from home to the world's most luxurious brands, a massive aquarium, it also features unique concepts and design that the world has never seen. One thing that surely caught mall-goers eye is The Waterfall. This massive waterfall runs through the four levels of the mall and features art sculptures of human divers made of fiberglass creating the illusion as if they really are diving from the top to bottom.

       Dubai Mall being so vast, the Waterfall is a very good meeting point for families and friends. Coffee shops and retail outlets overlooks the waterfall. Some palm trees were also set up to to make the ambiance of a desert oasis.

       With expansions going on, we can only expect that Dubai Mall will be adding more attractions to keep up with the interests of the growing visitors of the mall.

How to get there?
       Take the Metro Red Line and get off at Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall Station. T…

Ligñon Hill Nature Park | Rediscovering Legazpi City

Legazpi City is the capital of Albay province. It is often called as the City of Fun and Adventure. Why? First, the city  is a land of happy people. Tourists can say how warm and welcoming the locals are. The city is also blessed with natural tourist spots which drew thousands of local and foreign visitors. Mayon Volcano is definitely the Hall of Famer when it comes  to the top destination the tourists want to see  but in recent years, a lot of tourism projects and developments were done hence boosting the growth of the city. One of the places you should  visit whenever visiting the city is the Ligñon Hill Nature Park in Bogtong, Legazpi City.

       For years, the hill had become one of the most visited landmark in he city. The summit rises to about 512 feet (156 meters). It offers a 360 degree panoramic view of the Mayon Volcano, the downtown Legazpi City and neighboring towns, and the Albay gulf. The place is perfect for sightseers, adventure seekers, and to those who want…

Bambusetum | Kawa-Kawa Hills | Ligao City, Albay

On the slopes of Kawa-Kawa Hills in Tuburan, Ligao City, Albay lies another attraction that has been drawing thousands of visitors since it opened in 2014. The place is called Bambusetum. From the name itself, it is quite easy to guess what it is about. It's a one hectare sanctuary for a variety of the mighty grass we all know, the bamboo. It adds a generous amount of green to the already lush and verdant fields of the hill. It is made possible thru the DENR, the City Government of Ligao and Cong. Fernando Gonzales.

       I so loved green and everybody knows that, but what's fascinating about this bambusetum is that it serves a gene bamboo bank and plantation to propagate the said grass and therefore ultimately creating a bamboo forest, and bingo, a tourist attraction.

       The bambusetum houses local species such as Anos (Schizostachyum lima), Bayog (Bambusa merrilliana), Bikal (Schizostachyum dielsianum), Botong (Gigantochloa levis), Buho (Schizostachyum lumampao,…