Tag Archives: History

Intramuros: Behind the Walls of Old Manila

Clockwise from top right: our calesa driver taking us along one of the calles, The Manila Cathedral, One of the weapons used during the Japanese occupation, Baluarte de San Diego Gardens, our tourguide’s calesa

The historic “walled city” (direct latin translation of Intramuros) is not only an interesting but also, a meaningful way to spend one’s day in Manila. Afterall, Intramuros was Manila in the days of old, founded in 1571–the stronghold of the Spanish Colonial government. As soon as you step into one of Intramuros’ puertas, you could almost hear it’s walls and cobbled streets echo the stories of the Spanish Era and the American Occupation. The structures and old institutions inside Intramuros, also tell of the ravage and destruction that World War II brought about when the Japanese used the fortress as their garrison.

Plaza San Luis Complex right next to the San Agustin Church.

Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica

Also known as Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It was closed for renovation as of press time.

Although the walls have mostly been restored from the damage done during WWII, Intramuros still holds that certain wordless charm–the feeling of being transported back in time. Churches such as the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral), San Agustín Church and schools such as the University of Santo Tomas and Colegio de San Juan de Letrán are part and parcel of the most significant heritage that the Spaniards have left us with: Catholicism.

San Agustin Church. Originally known as “inglesia de San Pablo”, founded in 1571 is the oldest stone church (built in 1589) in the Philippines.

Recently this landmark has been getting negative press, quoting from Wikipedia:

“In an October 2010 report titled Saving Our Vanishing Heritage, the Global Heritage Fund identified Intramuros along with Fort Santiago, as one of 12 worldwide sites “On the Verge” of irreparable loss and destruction, citing insufficient management and development pressures.

I only hope that the Philippine government will act swiftly to save this treasure and preserve pieces of the Filipino identity.