MANILA – Intramuros is a must-see destination for first-time tourists in Manila. While its landscape has evolved through the years, its beauty and charm hasn’t changed.
Built in the late 16th century, Intramuros served as a political, cultural, educational, religious, and commercial center of the Spanish empire in the Philippines. The walls were built to protect residents from attacks from various forces.
Today, more than 400 years later, Intramuros still stands as a social and business area, with schools, government offices, and establishments thriving in the walled city.
Recent renovations have also attracted many locals and tourists. Cables and wires in front of the Manila Cathedral have been removed, giving visitors an unobstructed view of the church, while the Ayuntamiento lights up beautifully at night.
Want to take a break from bustling Manila? Here are four relaxing spots in Intramuros, which were part of a tour organized by Waterfront Pavilion Hotel and Casino and the Intramuros Administration:
1. Fort Santiago
Built in 1571, Fort Santiago is one of the oldest fortifications in Manila. This citadel was destroyed and rebuilt many times following wars and natural disasters.
Plaza Moriones, which was previously lush with plants and trees, is now an open space. Guests can also retrace the steps of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, who was imprisoned here before his execution at Bagumbayan.
2. San Agustin Church and Convent
Its wide nave, the magnificent trompe l’oeil artwork on the ceiling, spacious hallways, and quiet and cool galleries are just some of the reasons why people should visit San Agustin Church and Convent and its museum at least once in their lifetime.
San Agustin Church and Convent is the oldest stone church in the country and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The museum beside it could take anybody hours just to explore.
It features intricate artifacts, like the ornate wooden chairs at the choir loft, old liturgical books, and religious images made of ivory and wood.
3. Baluarte de San Diego
This circular fort was designed by Jesuit priest Antonio Sedeño and was destroyed during the Battle of Manila in 1945.
The garden and yard below it is a relaxing spot with its many trees, a manicured lawn, a fountain, and areas to sit on.
4. Casa Manila
Located inside Plaza San Luis Complex, Casa Manila is an example of an affluent home at the turn of the 20th century.
Entering the museum is like going back in time, with its antique wooden, stone, marble, and ceramic furniture.