The Walled City of Intramuros

Intramuros Travel Blog

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A self-confessed culture/history vultures would go to museum and municipal/city library to satisfy their artistic needs.  A traveler would drive long and pack his/her bag to get away  and satisfy her/his needs.  Well, if you are a combination of both, no need to stay seated for a long time at the back of your steering wheel and waste your fuel to get this ecstasy - Intramuros is enough to get the same high.

Known to Manilenos as "The Walled City", this unbelievably awesome place stands historically beautiful despite of the evident modernization  and high-technology showing in every corner of the site.  The place is located in Manila travel guide">Metro Manila.  Its surrounded by different and equally historical tourist destinations such as: Rizal Park (Luneta); Manila HotelManila Ocean ParkManila ZooManila  Botanical and Zoological GardenCarfel Seashell MuseumKanlungan ng Sining (Artist's Haven); Japanese GardenForth Santiago and a lot more.

Several churches are located within and around Intramuros.  Some of these churches are reserved all-year-round for weddings and different important occasions that needs the church's expertise.  The following are the list of churches within the area:

  • Manila Cathedral
  • San Agustin Church
  • San Ignacio Church
  • Lourdes Church
  • San Francisco Church (now occupied by Mapua Institute of Technology)
  • Santo Domingo Church (now occupied by Bank of the Philippine Islands)
  • San Nicolas de Tolentino Church (now occupied by Manila Bulletin)
  • Third Venerable Order Church (Mapua Chapel)

Some of the buildings located within the sites are the following:

  • Palacio del Gobernador (Commission on Elections)
  • Palacio de Sta.
     (Philippine Red Cross)
  • Palacio Arzobispal (The Archbishop Palace)
  • Hospital de San Juan de Dios (Lyceum of the Philippines University)
  • Cuartel Espania (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila)

Four hundred (400) years ago, the site is the center of Spanish occupation in the country.  It's the home of thousands of Spanish colonist and their families as well as their Filipino servants.  It is the oldest district in Manila.  It was said that the site is originally a large Indian-Malayan-Islamic settlement named "Maynila" and ruled by Datu, Sultan and Rajah's.  Its located along Manila Bay and south of the Pasig River - this is why the outline of the 'defensive walls' of the place is irregular. It follows the contour of Manilay Bay and Pasig River.

The construction of the 'defensive walls' started by the Spaniards in the late 16th century to serve the purpose of protecting the throne of Spanish government against foreign invasions (British, Dutch and Chinese).  Intramuros in Spanish literally means 'within the walls'.  There are eight gates (Puertas) of Intramuros, way back American Era, and these are the following: Puerta AlmacenesPuerta de la AduanaPuerta de San DomingoPuerta Isable IIPuerta del ParianPuerta RealPuerta Santa Lucia and Puerta del Postigo.

The tour will take about three hours or less and its definitely involves walking.

 To enjoy the trip, you will absolutely need:

  • camera and extra batteries
  • comfortable shoes/slippers
  • a bag for souvenirs
  • bottled water
  • hat or 'bandana' to cover your head
  • a map (Hahaha!) - you might think the place is small for your big ego but think again.:D

We started our tour from Puerta Real, took lots of pictures of the garden nearby and run around like a kid careless of what the other by-standers would say.Hahaha! I may be dubbed as 'jologs' but who cares? I haven't felt this awesome feeling like I belong - that I am part of the history even if I didn't actually live in 16th century.  Plus factor is the guardia sibil standing right next to the gate - with his Spanish-era uniform.

Unbelievable!  I find it so wonderful and amazing I asked the guard to pose with me in the picture with the 'defensive walls' as our backdrop.

We visited next the famous Baluarte de San Diego Gardens (entrance fee per pax:25Php).  Well, it is a garden indeed, a very beautiful one.  It is maintained as an archipelago site and pergola are added to make the site more functional as venue for special occasions.  Its is open to public but you can also rent the area for private occasions, just like the churches in the site - you also must reserve it ahead of time (I really mean, ahead - like a year ahead.Hahaha!)

Jesuit Priest Antonio Sedeno designed and built the oldest stone fortification in Intramuros from 1586 to 1587.  It started as a circular fort called Fort Nuestra Senora de Guia, it's a round tower that serves as the compass of the Spanish defense inland and sea.  It soon fell in disrepair due to its poor quality. And in 17th century, the new Baluarte de San Diego was constructed and this time, it was built and shape like an ace of spades.  The reconstruction was again fell in disrepair when the site was destroyed during World War II and during British Invasion last 1972.

Finally, in 1980, the third reconstruction was done to make the site one of the famous tourist destination in Intramuros.  It's now managed by the Intramuros administration.  And there's Fort Santiago - its a defense fortress built for Spanish conquistador and now part of the walled city (per Wikipedia).  We also visited San Agustin Church, the Gobernador Palace and the plaza at the center of the site.  We dropped by and shopped on each kiosk and booth for little souvenirs (Well, not really little coz we bought as many as possible.Hahaha!) Luckily for us, we dropped by in time to witnessed an exhibit  for Mindanao's products and introducing Mindanao's culture, arts and livelihood.  Awesome! I know,right? :D

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photo by: lanieinthesky