Intramuros is a walled city that served as the Spanish bastion of the Philippines back during its Spanish colonial days. Located along Manila Bay at the southern bank of the Pasig River,Â Intramuros has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A fortress city which successfully defended against Dutch, Chinese and Sulu raiders at the time, the walls surrounding it measure 6 meters high and 3 kilometers long, enclosing 51 blocks of churches, hospitals, military housing, the Governor’s Palace and schools.
Here are several things to do while visiting Intramuros:
Walk the entire length of the walls: You can locate the seven fortified gates distributed throughout the walls. Some parts of the wall havenâ€™t been rebuilt and you have to use the ramps to go down and back up to continue your journey. If you have trouble finding your way, security guards dressed in old-style Guardia Civil uniforms and well-versed in the geography of the vicinity will happily assist you in your tour. Afterwards, you may take a calesa (horse-drawn carraige) ride to visit the other highlights within Intramuros.
Experience the best products of the country in Wow! Philippines: The Clamshell Tent at the old Ateneo site in Anda Street serves as a exhibition space for regional arts and crafts as well as musical and cultural onstage performances, such as Music on the Walls, which features show bandsÂ every weekend at the Baluarte Plano Luneta de Sta. Isabel. Whether you plan to shop for souvenirs or sample regional delicacies,Â this is the best place to stop by.
Examine San Agustin Church: The oldest church in the country, San Agustin was built back in 1607 and is the only structure in the area left standing during bombardment back in World War II. The church is a fine example of Spanish and Italian influence, with thick walls of Corinthian and Ionic designs. Another church worth visiting within the walls is the Manila Cathedral, just 200 meters north of San Agustin.
Play a round of golf: The golf course was built over a moat surrounding the walls, which was filled over by American forces to prevent an outbreak of disease. Though the course is quite short, there are plenty of challenges and can be played in under two hours.
Examine Fort Santiago: Serving as a dreaded prison during Spanish times and a torture center during Japanese occupation, Fort Santiago also acted as the final prison quarters of Jose Rizal, the national hero, before he was executed in present-day Luneta Park. A Rizal Shrine Museum is housed in the fortress, where mementos, replicas and recreations of Rizal’s life are exhibited to the public.
Learn history at the Light and Sound Museum: This lightshow depicts life under the Spanish regime as well as the struggles of the local populace as they fought for independence. Statues of national heroes like Rizal, Andres Bonifaco, and Lapu-Lapu are also displayed at the museum.
To get to Intramuros from LRT-1, get off at United Nations Station and walk for 20 minutes to the walled city. You can also take a more convenient route via taxi to the site. Due to the tropical heat, the best time to visit during the early mornings or late afternoon. A good date to schedule your visit is Rizal Day on December 31, when a series of activities center around the national hero. Don’t forget to bring comfortable footwear, a bottle of water, and an extra shirt.