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Intramuros, Manila Overview

Intramuros, colloquially known as the ‘walled city’ of Metro is a bustling district developed around the south bank of River Pasig. Built in 1571 by the Spaniards- particularly Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the city is surrounded by moats and sturdy high walls, some of which are as high as 6 metres. Besides a relevant historical significance, the city has also bore and withstood several earthquakes and natural calamities. Replete with classic churches, ancient monuments and several gorgeous gardens. Once the seat of the Spanish power, the city has regained and re-attained its position as one of the top tourist destinations in the state.

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Places of Attraction in Intramuros

  1. Fort Santiago

    Fort Santiago is one of the topmost attractions in the city of Intramuros. It was originally built as a defence fortress and later it was used by the Japanese as a torture cell for the captives. However, it gained prime highlight when the Filipino nationalist and freedom fighter- Jose Rizal was held captive here and sentenced to death. Some part of the fortress is currently in ruins while some of it has been renovated and rebuilt. Boasting of sturdy walls, moats and dungeons, the prime attraction at the fort is the Rizal Shrine and Museum which houses a lot of memorabilia of the national hero.
    Fort Santiago
  2. Manila Cathedral

    Considered to be one of the most important churches in all of Manila, Manila Cathedral has been damaged and built eight times over as it was destroyed by severe earthquakes. Currently the seat of the Archbishop of Manila, the church is open to visitors as well in addition to being a revered place of worship for the devotees.
  3. San Agustin Church

    Another important church in the city is San Agustin Church which has also been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Popular for its unique trompe l'oeil ceilings, the royal facade and the museum within the complex, the church is thronged by devotees and tourists alike especially by history buffs. 
    San Agustin Museum
  4. Plaza San Luis Complex

    Plaza San Luis retains the old world Filipino charm despite being built very recently in the 1970s. Basically it is just a set of five houses clustered around a plaza. The houses are designed to look like the elite royal Spanish houses that also houses several restaurants, big brand stores, shopping services and museums. It is known as a one-stop shopping destination for the shopaholics.
  5. Bahay Tsinoy

    Bahay Tsinoy is one of the most popular museums in Intramuros. The Chinese has a history with the Philippines that can be traced back even beyond the Spanish history. It showcases and displays the Filipino- Chinese history.
  6. Casa Manila Museum

    Sprawling over three storeys, Casa Manila is a museum that has been designed to look like the 1850s San Nicolas House. The museum is furnished with several articles and furniture that reflect the rich lifestyle and culture of the elite class Filipinos.
    Casa Manila
  7. Rizal Shrine

    Rizal Shrine is another monument of Intramuros that is of significant national importance. This is the place where the Filipino national hero and freedom fighter- Jose Rizal was executed. The spot is marked by a series of sculptures of the sentries and a tall flagpole. There is also a small museum that documents and displays several works related to the life and times of Jose Rizal.

Transportation in Intramuros

The planned walkways and roads in Intramuros make is accessible to easily explore the city. General Luna is the most common road/ street through which you can have an easy access to several prime attractions of the city. Calesa or horse drawn carriages is one of the common modes of transport in the city. A little old fashioned but really exciting, the calesa can be easily found on the corners of the street that can drop you to your location. Alternatively, as the city is really small, you can explore the city on foot as all places are located in close vicinity to one another. Another common way to commute in Intramuros is through tricycle. The transport is cheap and the driver known all routes as he is a localite. However, make sure you settle the fare before you decide to ride on any one- either the calesa or the tricycle.

History of Intramuros

Intramuros was built as the ‘Walled City’ by the Spanish in 1521 which was located between the Manila Bay and River Pasig due to strategic policies. Covering an area of over 66 hectares, the city has a total of 51 blocks, 7 fortified gateways and moat and high walls. The moat was added to the city 32 years later in 1603. With the intention of being developed as the military and political base of the Spanish, as well as the religious and educational hub, Intramuros later went to be occupied by the Japanese.

During World War II, the city was used as a garrison and prison cell but the many bombings cause heavy destruction and damage and many walls were demolished. After the war, the US took charge and the moat was filled up to prevent diseases. Now most of the monuments have been renovated and restored and a golf course stands on the site where the moat once existed.

How to Reach

The nearest railway station to the city of Intramuros is Central Terminal- Yellow Line LRT 1. However, this station is still far off from the western part of town and you will require to take a taxi. You can also reach here in a ferry that operates in the River Pasig. It can drop you to Plaza Mexico Station. Alternatively, the option of private cabs and taxis is forever open and you can hire one of these to reach Intramuros.

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