Intramuros is the historic centre and oldest district of Manila, the capital city of the Philippines.
If you love to stay in the metro, then Intramuros is one place you should visit. Located at the heart of Manila, is home to the monument of Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero. There are a lot of scenic spots that depicts the city’s history.
Taxis are the best for visitors who don’t mind shelling out a little extra – and putting up with rush-hour traffic jams – Manila’s relatively inexpensive taxis are probably the easiest and most direct way of reaching Intramuros from elsewhere in the city.
Also known as the Ciudad Murada (Walled City) because of its most famous feature, a three-mile-long circuit of massive stone walls and fortifications that almost completely surrounds the entire district.
We visited the Intramuros in 2010 and it was a beautiful historical place what was left of it, there is still clear evidence of what it went through all those years, wars, famine etc, visitors and tourists were abundant, we rode a Calesa, a horse drawn carriage beautiful set up, it took us around the site past old ruins, the journey took and hour and a half, with many stops along the way, we had the opportunity to climb off and see some smaller historical places, while the driver waited for us. It was a very well enjoyable experience, a good place to visit while in Manila I give it 8 out of ten. Here below is some info on the Intramuros and its places. Hope you enjoy the information we have acquired by local knowledge and and what we learned.
From the city’s foundation in 1571 to the end of Spanish rule in 1898, Intramuros was Manila. The Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi laid the foundations of the new capital on the former site of Maynilad, To protect the inhabitants from attack, in the late 1500s construction began on a series of stone walls and fortifications that would eventually enclose a pentagonal area, within which lay a tight grid-like system of streets and a main square surrounded by government structures. I seen improvements and other construction work being carried out and will continued well into the next century.
Within the protective walls there is fabulous city of stone palaces, churches, monasteries, convents, schools, and fine courtyard houses.
Under the British rule between 1762-1764, Intramuros remained a Spanish city until 1898, when the U.S. took control of the Philippines at the end of the Spanish-American War. And in 1945, during the fierce Battle of Manila between American, Filipino and Japanese forces, Intramuros was almost completely destroyed. Instead of rebuilding on the same site, many of the religious orders and educational institutions that once resided in the walled district packed up and moved elsewhere. Although steps were taken to protect the city’s historic character, vague laws and poor enforcement led to many unsightly modern buildings being built upon the ruins of the old. In 1979, the Intramuros Administration was established and stronger measures introduced in order to preserve what was left, all we can hope for is that’s it enforced and this lovely site Intramuros ( Old Manila ) is rebuild and restored to its original form of what was beautiful.
It’s hard to get hopelessly lost in Intramuros, thanks to the district’s orderly street plan. General Luna is the closest thing Intramuros has to a main street and gives visitors easy access to most of the major attractions, including San Agustín Church and Manila Cathedral. Follow this street all the way to its northwestern tip and you’ll find yourself in front of Fort Santiago; go the other way and you’ll eventually end up in Rizal Park, which is just over the border in the nearby Ermita district.
If you do lose your bearings, don’t panic. Keep in mind that except for a small section near the river, the entire district is surrounded by walls – so there probably isn’t much of a chance that you’ll inadvertently end up in the wider city beyond. A quick look at a map and perhaps a little help from passers-by, should easily put you back on track.
First used on the streets of Manila in the 18th century, these horse-drawn carriages can usually be found waiting for passengers near Fort Santiago. A nice, old-fashioned way to get around Intramuros. To avoid getting ripped off, it may be a good idea to ask about the route and confirm the price of the trip before setting out.
On foot – Walking from one attraction to another is a popular way to get around Intramuros. Just mind the cars: there are almost no pavements to speak of so pedestrians usually share space with automobiles. It is even possible to walk on some sections of the old city walls.
Except for a small open stretch near the River Pasig, Intramuros is completely surrounded by the massive stone walls that gave the district its name. Starting from the northwestern end of the fortifications and moving anti-clockwise.
The former military headquarters of the Spanish colonial government. Although the fort sustained very heavy damage during the 1945 Battle of Manila, several key portions of the compound were subsequently restored – including its iconic gate with a wooden relief featuring Santiago Matamoros (St. James the Moor-slayer), the patron saint of Spain. It is now considered a major landmark and one of Manila’s most popular tourist attractions, partly because José Rizal – the national hero of the Philippines – was imprisoned here prior to his execution on 30 Dec 1896. The Rizal Shrine a small museum dedicated to his life and work, is housed in a restored section of one of the fort’s former barracks.
Postigo del Palacio
Built in 1662, renovated 1782-83. On 30 Dec 1896, national hero José Rizal was taken through this gate en route to the place of his execution, in what is known today as Rizal Park
Puerta de Santa Lucia
Baluartillo de San Jose and Reducto de San Pedro
Baluarte de San Diego, Dating from the 17th century, this formidable bastion surrounds the remains of the round fort of Nuestra Senoea de Guia, the first stone fort built in Manila. Severely damaged during the Second World War, the Baluarte de San Diego was restored in the 1980s and is now a major tourist attraction.
Built in 1861, this was the last gate to be opened in Intramuros’ walls under Spanish rule. A fine statue of Queen Isabel II of Spain stands in front of the gate.
Statue of King Carlos IV of Spain in Plaza de Roma
Plaza de Roma, Bounded by the Manila Cathedral to the southeast, the Palacio del Gobernador to the southwest and the Ayuntamiento to the northeast, this small plot of fland is Intramuros’ very own main square. At the centre of the plaza stands a monument to King Carlos IV of Spain, cast in 1808 and erected in 1824 by a colonial government grateful for his having dispatched a shipment of smallpox vaccine to the Philippines.
Completely rebuilt in 1884 after the disastrous earthquake of 1863, the seat of Manila’s colonial-era city council once had some of the grandest interiors in Intramuros. The 1945 Battle of Manila left it a gutted shell, of which only parts of the first storey survived; it then suffered the indignity of serving as a parking lot. A major reconstruction project that started a few years ago is finally nearing completion, with the facade of the historic building now having regained much of its prewar glory.
Palacio del Gobernador
This eight-storey office building was erected in the late 1970s on the site of the Spanish Governor-General’s official residence, which was destroyed in a powerful 1863 earthquake that also damaged many other structures in Intramuros. Sadly, the hulking modern building looks almost nothing like its grand 19th-century namesake.
Built in 1581 it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over, the 19th-century structure that was levelled to the ground during the 1945 Battle of Manila. A small exhibit detailing the Cathedral’s history can be found in one of the side chapels near the entrance. Masses are offered daily.
San Agustin Church
It is said to be the oldest stone church currently standing in the Philippines. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993 as part of the group “Baroque Churches of the Philippines”. Miguel López de Legazpi the first Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines, was buried in a tomb in 1572 near the high altar in other funerary monuments can be found along the walls or set into the floor, the church is a very popular venue for weddings; don’t be surprised if you encounter a ceremony in progress during your visit.
A recreation of a typical upper-class colonial Intramuros home. The interiors are filled with antique furniture, artwork, and other artifacts from the Spanish era, all carefully arranged to illustrate what life was like for wealthy families of that period.
The ruins of the Intendencia
Built in the 1820s and reconstructed after the 1863 earthquake, this building once housed the Spanish colonial government’s customs offices and other administrative units. It was damaged during the war but survived to re-enter government service – at one point housing the Central Bank of the Philippines.
For visitors looking to take something home, stores and galleries selling everything from native art to tourist kitsch aren’t difficult to find in this district, especially near major landmarks like Fort Santiago. That said, Intramuros isn’t really known for its shopping – to find more options one might consider heading out to the malls of the nearby Ermita area and further afield.