May 27, 2014

Intramuros: The Walled City of Manila, Philippines

I wish I am sipping on a Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino (Grande, please!) as I’m writing this post. Ugh, wishes! Anyway, on one of Mom’s vacation here in Manila, we visited Intramuros. The place is just few minutes from Makati, you'll pay about P150 – P200 if you’ll take a cab. Intramuros is a must-visit place to those who want to understand the history of the country.

Mom and I, with our Tour Guide at the main gate of Fort Santiago

Intramuros
 (Latin: within the walls), located along the southern bank of the Pasig River, was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century. It's a Spanish-style fortified city where churches, government buildings, museums, plazas, schools, stately houses, and more, are all enclosed in its massive walls. This place served as the seat of the Spanish presence in the Philippines. It is now considered as one of UNESCO’s 10 World Heritage sites in Southeast Asia. The Walled-City was flattened by American bombers during World War II, with only San Agustin Cathedral left standing by war's end. Thanks to major restoration and reconstruction efforts that have remade the former Spanish settlement into a prominent tourist spot in Manila.

You can do a walking tour around the area, but we opted to tour using a “Kalesa” (a cart being pulled by a horse). Some of my readers, especially my friends, know I am a lazy traveler. Tee-hee! I paid more than a thousand pesos for a kalesa, but that comes with a Tour guide as a package. Not too sure if that was too expensive, but it was worth it. Let me share with you our interesting Intramuros experience delivered by an excellent tour guide.


Fort Santiago or Fuerza de Santiago 

Fort Santiago is the oldest Spanish fortress in the Philippines and one of the major attractions inside Intramuros. It is also considered a major landmark partly because Jose Rizal, Philippines' National Hero, was imprisoned here prior to his execution on 30 Dec 1896. 
Jose Rizal Shrine

The Rizal Shrine is located on Santa Clara Street inside Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila. This shrine is dedicated to the life and works of Jose Rizal. Inside the museum is where you will find a replica of Jose Rizal’s prison cell set up supposedly before he was executed. 

The above photos shows Postigo del Palacio (was built in 1783 to serve as alley-ways to the palace of the Governor General and residence of the Archbishop), Puerta Del Parian (built in 1593 and was one of the first entrances to the Walled City), Baluarte De San Gabriel (built in 1593, this was the Walled City’s most important defense in the north that protected the riverside), Puerta De Isabel II (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), Baluarte de San Diego (built by Jesuit priest Antonio Sedeño from 1586 to 1587, and one of the oldest stone fortifications in Intramuros), and Revellin de Rea de Bagumbayan (sed as prison cells and barracks during Japanese occupation).

Palacio del Gobernador

This building was built in the late of 1970’s on the site of the Spanish Governor-General's official residence, which was destroyed in a powerful 1863 earthquake that also damaged many other structures in Intramuros. 
San Agustín Church (left) and Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (right)

I was told that there were 7 or 8 churches of Intramuros, but only the San Agustin (left) church remained standing after the unforgivable bombing of the 350 year old walled city of Intramuros by the American forces. The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral) (right) was rebuilt several times over. 

Octagon-shaped Nipa Hut Houses inside Intramuros 
I felt bad that I have lost some of my pictures. I have posted this in my old blog which was deleted by Google for some unknown reasons. Anyway, visiting Intramuros offers a quick way to reconnect with the country’s past. Remember, you can always tour around the area by foot.

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