Jan 20, 2012


Intramuros  in Manila, Philippines

The Philippines’ rich Spanish colonial heritage, history, and culture is on display in the ruins of Manila’s oldest district. Intramuros, or the “walled city” is the most unique, and culturally significant district in Manila. Intramuros’ monuments, including Fort Santiago, Baluarte de San Diego, San Agustin Church and Manila Cathedral draw hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

Within the bustling, populous city of Manila, where street vendors sing out on every corner, and nightlife roars into the wee hours of the morning, lies Intramuros, Manila’s “walled city.” Intramuros is quietest, oldest, and most historically significant district in the city. The historical and cultural heritage apparent in Intramuros makes for an awe-inspiring afternoon, or a romantic evening.

Historical Significance of Intramuros


via: John T Pilot

The historical and cultural significance of the Intramuros cannot be overstated. From the late 1500’s until the 20th century, the city of Manila was defined by Intramuros. The walled city was marked by its churches, cathedrals, public buildings, and buildings of higher education. The city, located along the Pasig River, and facing Manila Bay, was built by the Spanish in order to protect Manila from foreign invasions, and pirate attacks. Later conquered by the Americans, then the Japanese, Intramuros was almost completely destroyed during World War II. By the end of the war, the only building left standing was The Church of San Agustin. Efforts have since been made to “beautify” and restore the district.


Intramuros Today


via: Jeff Tabaco

Since World War II, Manila’s leaders have made big strides towards rebuilding the walled city, and returning it to its pre-war form. The city plans on completing the walls around the city. The district, just a stones-throw from the sprawling Ermita District, is still ripe with historical plazas, monuments, churches, museums and ruins. The 1980’s were a notable period of restoration, as monuments and plazas were restored around the district. While the walls and the gates have been restored and rebuilt, many of the cities’ defining structures, including churches and public buildings, have moved outside of the walls of the district.

Fast food restaurants have moved in, a municipal golf course has long-since replaced the city’s moats, and traffic jams within the walls show a sign of the times. The Global Heritage Fund has tagged Intramuros as an area of concern, as insufficient management and maintenance has threatened the district’s heritage.  http://globalheritagefund.org/onthewire/taglist/Intramuros. Despite the lack of funding for re-building efforts, and the concern of globalized corporations overtaking the cultural heritage of the district, there are still many culturally significant sights to see within Intramuros.

The top attractions today include the ruins of Baluarte de San Diego, San Agustin Church, San Agustin Museum, Manila Cathedral, and Fort Santiago. San Agustin is the oldest church in the Philippines, and the only church within Intramuros to survive World War II. Weddings, and ceremonies can be witnessed at San Agustin Church, and Manila Cathedral on any day of the week. All of the top attractions, with the exception of San Agustin Museum are free to explore.


How to Experience The Walled City


via: Andy*Enero

This 64-hectare district is well-designed, and easy to navigate. Seven meter high walls enclose you on all sides, and the streets exude Spanish influences that set it apart from much of the rest of Manila. Though the lit streets of Intramuros can make for a quiet and romantic experience, the best time to visit the walled city is during day. This will ensure that all gates and sections of walls are open and available to access. Exploring the district on foot is recommended, but be careful, as cars, calesas (horse-drawn carriages) and a lack of sidewalks can make for dangerous scenarios. A favorite of many tourists is riding a calesa, which can help you to understand the organization of the district, and allow you to move more quickly to the districts top attractions. A calesa ride through the district should run you around PHP 150.

Intramuros Map

Intramuros is one of the last places to see strong Spanish cultural influence in the country’s capital. The district looks not unlike the colonial districts you would find within Antigua City in Guatemala, or Cartagena City in Colombia. The plazas, monuments, churches, museums, and ruins are one of the more unique sights you’ll see anywhere in Southeast Asia. Visitors who see Intramuros for the first time understand the history of Manila, and the Philippines in a new light. Before you explore the “extramuros” of the city, make sure you visit the “intramuros” of Manila’s “walled city.”

Intramuros Hotels

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  1. Sofitel Philippine Plaza: Best Five-Star In Manila? || GoodBuyHolidays - [...] has 609 rooms and suites, with balconies for all. Some rooms have views overlooking Manila Bay, and Intramuros. For ...

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