Intramuros, founded and constructed in 1571 by Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, sits on the remnants of an Islamic settlement in the mouth of the Pasig river in what is now modern-day Manila.
It was initially constructed for the safety of the invading Spanish troops in the 16th century against sea pirates. It was a Spanish city in an Asian land. Within its walls are cobblestone streets lined government buildings, churches, monasteries, hospitals and schools.
Just after the second world war, all that was left in this city were its walls —-most of the structures in Manila was flattened out by heavy artillery and bombing by Americans in fighting to reclaim the city from the Japanese.
With the government’s initiative, the churches, plazas and schools have been reconstructed to restore this walled city into its former glory. Currently Intramuros houses government institutions, schools, churches, museums, restaurants and bars. Around the city, on what used to be a moat, is a golf course developed by the Americans during the early 1900s.
Popular Historical Sites
San Agustin Church and Museum
The only structure that survived WWII in Intramuros, the San Agustin Church is the oldest in the Philippines. It was built in the 16th century and is still in active use to this day. It also houses a museum that includes a collection of religious icons and treasures of old Manila.
This military fortification used to be the seat of government during the Spanish times. It is now designated as a shrine in honor of the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. It was in this fort where he was held before he faced the firing squad in nearby Luneta. In fact you can trace his final footsteps cast in brass at Fort Santiago.
The building where Dr. Rizal was held has been converted into a museum that houses the national hero’s memorabilia. Among these are a piece of his vertebrae, the first draft of Noli Me Tangere and the original manuscript of Mi Ultimo Adios.
The cathedral that is the current seat of the Manila Archbishop was reconstructed in 1951. The current Romanesque structure is the 6th church to be built on this site after a succession of earthquakes, fires and battles that destroyed the previous structures.
A faithfully restored Spanish home that showcases the artifacts of a typical home in the Spanish times. It was a project of the former first lady Imelda Marcos.
Map of Intramuros
Here’s a handy map of Intramuros with the important historical sites and buildings marked out.
[Photo by Dave de Luria]