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Enjoy Walking tour of Intramuros

Manila in One Day - Sunset in Manila Bay

Taking a walk in Intramuros is a priceless treasure to be shared with the world.

Today, efforts to preserve the “Walled City “and revive its illustrious past are stronger than ever. The present generations of Filipinos have come to realize its historical value.

Fort Santiago or “Walled City” is one of the oldest fortifications in Manila. Built in 1571, the first fort was palisaded with the structure of logs and earth.

Intramuros Manila photo by Aela Mataverde via Unsplash
Intramuros Manila photo by Aela Mataverde via Unsplash Manila Walking Tours

It became the headquarters of the British occupation from 1792 to 1764.

In 1942, it was occupied by the Japanese military; destroyed by the Battle of Manila in 1945; used as depot by the U.S. Transportation Corps before the turnover to the Philippine government in 1942.

In 1950, it was declared a Shrine of Freedom. Restoration and maintenance of the fort began in 1951 under the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC). Management was turned over to the Intramuros Administration (IA) in 1992.

Palacio del Gobernador -– In 1959, it became the Governor-General’s residence and office of the Supreme Court.

It was used as an air-raid shelter during WWII when 80 male civilians were massacred in 1945.

When the Governor-General moved to Malacanang, it was abandoned. The present building was constructed in 1976 to house government offices.

Postigo del Palacio -– built in 1662, it led to the palace of the Archbishop of Manila. Renovated in 1782, our national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal, passed through this gate from Fort Santiago to his execution site at Bagumbayan in 1896.

It was damaged during the Battle of Manila in 1945. Bridge excavated/restored from 1983.

Puerta de Sta. Lucia –- built in 1603, it was one of the original entrances to the Walled City. It was destroyed during the Battle of Manila in 1945, side chambers restored in 1968, and the gate in 1982.

Baluartillo de San Jose -– A tunnel-like passage built in with a drainage canal emptying out into the moat. Its primary use was to transport ammunition to Reducto de San Pedro.

The site was known as “No. 1 Victoria St. when it served as Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters in 1941.

Reducto de San Pedro -– an independent pentagonal structure built outside the walls.

It had its own stockpile of cannon balls deposited in recessed ledges at the entrance. A ramp on one side of the structure leading to the parapet made their transport easier. Gun emplacements looked out of the parapets.

Bagumbayan Light and Sound Museum –- considered as a major tourist attraction being the first of its kind in Asia. The museum showcases Philippine history in a nutshell, focusing on Rizal’s heroism and martyrdom.

This lot was the former site of the convent of the nuns of the Beaterio de la Compaña de Jesus now the Religious of the Virgin Mary.

Baluarte de San Diego-– Designed and built by Jesuit priest Antonio Sedeño from 1586 to 1587, It is one of the oldest stone fortifications in Intramuros.

It was destroyed during the Battle of Manila in 1945 and restored from 1979 to 1992.

Puerta Real -–built in 1663, it was used exclusively by the Governor-General for state occasions. Original gate at right side of the Baluarte de San Andres faced Bagumbayan.

It was destroyed during the British invasion in 1762. Old gate walled in and chambers were converted into powder magazines. Present Puerta Real and ravelin were constructed in 1780.

Ravellin de Real de Bagumbayan -– Ravelin was converted into Manila Aquarium during the American period. It was used as prison cells and barracks during the Japanese occupation.

Damaged in the Battle of Manila in 1945; restored in 1969 and additional works were made in 1982. The Manila Aquarium was revived after the war and maintained until it is closed in 1983.

Baluarte de San Andres-– Built in 1603, it was designed to protect the old Puerta Real and reinforced the southeastern part of Intramuros.

Reconstructed in 1733 with the addition of a bombproof arsenal for gunpowder, a watchtower (garita), and soldiers’ barracks.

Also called Baluarte de San Nicolas or Carranza, it was destroyed during the British siege of Manila in 1762. Rebuilt and modified after the British occupation Damaged again during the Battle of Manila in 1945 and restored in 1987.

Ravellin de Recoletos -– built in 1771 and named after the Recoletos Church, it is also known as Ravellin de Dilao. It was built to strengthen the defense of the curtain wall between Baluarte de Dilao and Baluarte de San Andres.

Original entrance closed when ravellin was converted into Aurora Gardens in 1940, in honor of the wife of Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon.

It was damaged during the Battle of Manila in 1945. It was restored in 1969 and again in 1986.

Puerta del Parian -– Named after Parian de Arroceros where Chinese and merchants lived. Built in 1593, it was one of the earliest entrances to Intramuros.

It became official house of the Governor-General in 1764, after the destruction of Puerta Real during British invasion.

Baluarte de San Gabriel -– Built in 1593, this was the Walled City’s most important defense in the north that protected the riverside. Rampart cannons overlooked the Parian in Binondo. The site of the first Parian in Manila and the hospital de San Gabriel.

The hospital was founded in 1587 by the Dominican fathers and destroyed by fire in 1597. Rebuilding stopped by city government for security reasons. Moved to Binondo and was closed in 1774,

Puerta de Isabel II -– The last gate to be built in Intramuros, it was opened in 1861 and was part of the route of tranvin (streetcar) in the 19th century.

Damaged during Battle of Manila in 1945; restored in 1996. Statue of Queen Isabel II originally unveiled at Plaza Arroceros and placed in front of Malate Church from 1896 until 1970. It was moved to present site in 1975.

Chambers are built in 1837 extending from Baluarte de Santo Domingo to Baluarte de San Gabriel and were used as military-medical quarters and storehouses.

Some of the sections were demolished by American engineers in 1903. Damaged during the Battle of Manila in 1945, only 15 chambers remain intact.

Aduana (Customs House)-– Designed by Tomas Cortes and built from 1823 to 1829. It was damaged by an earthquake in 1863 and demolished in 1872. The new building was erected from 1874 to 1876.

Housed were the Customs offices, the Intendencia General de Hacienda (Central Administration), the treasury, as well as the new Casa de Moneda (Mint).

The building was left to the Intendencia and the Treasury after Customs moved to Port Area. It was damaged by Japanese bombs in 1941 and American artillery in 1945.

The building became offices of the Central Bank of the Philippines, the National Treasury, and the Commission on Elections successively.

It was destroyed by fire in 1979 while the façade was restored by the National Archives in 1998.

Ayuntamiento (Casas Consistoriales) -– seat of City Council of Manila. The first structure was built from 1599 to 1607. It was severely damaged in the earthquakes of 1645 and1658. It was demolished to make way for the new building.

The second building was constructed in 1735. It was destroyed in 1863 by an earthquake. Reconstructed by military engineer Eduardo Lopez Navarro in 1879 and completed in 1884.

It became the headquarters of the 18th U.S. Army Corps in 1901. The building was the site of sessions of the First Philippine Assembly in 1907 and the Philippine Legislation in 1935.

It housed the offices of the Bureau of Justice and Supreme Court during the American and Commonwealth period and was destroyed in the Battle of Manila in 1945.

Plaza de Roma -– Formerly called Plaza Mayor. It was converted into a park in 1797. Renamed Plaza McKinley after U.S. President William McKinley in 1901; it was renamed Plaza de Roma in 1961 to honor the Sacred College of Cardinals in Rome following the elevation of the first Filipino cardinal, Rufino J. Santos.

A bronze monument to Carlos IV of Spain was erected in 1824 as a tribute to the introduction of the smallpox vaccine in the Philippines.

The fountain was built in 1886. The statue was replaced by GomBurZa monument in the 1960’s. The statue was returned in 1981.

Manila Cathedral -– the sixth structure to rise on this site. The first church made of nipa and bamboo was built in 1581 and was burned in 1583.

The second church lasted until 1588 when it was blown down by a typhoon. The third cathedral of “three naves and seven chapels” started in 1584 and was completed in 1614. It was destroyed in the 1645 earthquake.

The fifth church was built from 1872 to 1879. The church was severely damaged in the 1880 earthquake when its belltower collapsed. It was then destroyed in 1945 during the Battle of Manila.

The sixth cathedral was built from 1953 to 1958. It was elevated to the rank of Basilica Minore by Pope John Paul II in 1981 and officially named Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Plazuela de Santa Isabel – It was made part of Santa Isabel College which lacked an open space characteristic of Spanish buildings.

An empty lot called Sampalucan along Calle Anda joined to enlarge Plazuela in the 18th century. It was restored in 1983. A monument dedicated to the non-combatant victim of the last war was erected in 1995 by Memorare Manila in 1945.

San Agustin Church and Convent-– San Agustin Church is the oldest church in the Philippines. Known as the church of Saint Paul, the first church of the Augustinian Order was built in 1571.

It was destroyed by Chinese pirates in 1574.

Rebuilt a year later, it became the venue of the First Diocesan Synod in 1581 but was burned in 1583.

The third church was destroyed by fire in 1586. The fourth church made of stone was designed by Juan Macias and built from 1587 to 1604. It was looted during the British invasion in 1762.

Historic Intramuros Tour
Historic Intramuros Tour

Terms of surrender of Manila to the Americans were discussed in the vestry in 1898. It was damaged in the Battle of Manila in 1945 and repaired after the war.

It became the site of the first Philippine Plenary Council in 1953. In 1994, it was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

Plaza San Luis Complex-– named after one of the barrios of old Intramuros, this is a cultural-cum-commercial complex currently composed of nine houses representing Hispanic architecture.

Aside from gift and specialty shops, the complex houses Casa Manila, a museum containing 19th and early 20th century objects found in a typical ilustrado home. The complex also has an elegant restaurant and hotel.

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Written by Melo Villareal

Melo Villareal is the Online Publisher of He is an Accountant by profession who left the corporate world at the age of 23 to explore his beautiful country and the rest of the world. Today, Melo works as a part-time Social Media Manager for local and international clients. His full-time work focuses on discovering interesting culture, explore different cuisines and take memorable photos from local and international destinations he's visiting.

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