The Philippines’ most fascinating architecture is a product of the Spanish-colonial period. Intramuros—also called the Walled City—covers a fortified area of 160 acres in Manila built by the Spanish-colonial government to protect itself from foreign invaders. Sadly, this walled city has fallen into disrepair and is considered on the verge of being irreparably damaged. While the Spanish-colonial town of Vigan has made its way onto the UNESCO World Heritage List due to its better-preserved treasures, Intramuros remains a favorite place to visit, especially since it is accessible without having to leave the capital. Visitors can opt to walk, take a Segway, or, more interestingly, hop on a bamboo bike to tour the complex.
Photo by age fotostock
Intramuros plays an important part to our country’s history and it is one of the popular destinations for a visitor to our hometown. It is the oldest district and is called the Walled City. Historically, it is the seat of the Spanish government when they colonized the Philippines. You will still see the original wall structure and gates. If you wondered why our local language and other local dialects include words that sound like Spanish, you will understand it after getting a short overview of our history. Visit the Walled City, and find the popular old churches, Manila Cathedral and San Agustin. The other area in Intramuros to visit is Fort Santiago where you will find the old fort and Rizal Shrine, a small museum which features the life and works of Jose Rizal, our national hero. Along the way, you’ll find a lot more smaller attractions like museums, plazas, and old buildings. In fact, walking along the streets of Intramuros, you’ll feel like you are back in time, as you find yourself in the midst of old historical structures which are still in place.
See Manila's old city in a Kalesa
The best way to get around and learn about the old city is to get in a kalesa. Intramuros is the oldest part of Manila (“inside the walls”) and these horse-drawn vehicles with their English-speaking driver-guides wait in front of the main cathedral. Two adults can sit behind the driver and be taken to all the major sites in this fascinating and historic area. Make sure to agree on the price and how long your tour will be before getting in. Also talk to potential drivers a bit to make sure you can understand them. (We paid about the equivalent of $50 for about 4 hours, including spending almost an hour at the San Augustin church and its museum.)