Intramuros is rich in historical events. For 400 years, it served as the central power for the Spanish colony but the walled city suffered during World War II, leaving only San Agustin Church standing as a remnant of the war’s wrath.
In the 1980’s, the government conducted a major restoration to reconstruct Intramuros to its present state. Now, Intramuros is one of Manila’s top tourist spots where people can relive Manila during the Spanish era through its churches, restaurants and museums.
Fort Santiago and Rizal Shrine
Fort Santiago was built by Spanish conquistadors in 1571 after they won the war against the native tribe led by Rajah Sulayman. It served as a fortress against Chinese pirates, a prison for Spanish-era political prisoners, and a Japanese torture chamber in World War II. It was almost destroyed during the World War due to the American bombs deployed.
The government was able to restore it and now serves as one of Intramuros’ top attractions. Inside it contains the fort’s dungeons, barracks and secret gates. There’s also a shrine filled with art and memorabilia that is dedicated to the Philippine’s National Hero, Jose Rizal who was held in Fort Santiago before his execution.
San Agustin Church and Museum
The San Agustin Church was first constructed in 1571 and was destroyed in 1574. It was built (and destroyed again) twice before the present structure was completed in 1604.
The Church is the first European stone church designed along Spanish lines in Manila. It has 14 side chapels, hand-carved hardwood pews dating back to the 17th century, an 18th-century pipe organ, and a beautiful trompe l’oeil (french for “deceive the eye”) ceiling. Beside the church is a small museum featuring Spanish-era vestments, furniture, and religious artwork. Along with three other ancient Philippine churches, San Agustin Church was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Casa Manila Museum and Plaza San Luis
Casa Manila, which was built in 1981, is a reconstructed home that showcases a 19th century Spanish colonial home of the domestic life of a wealthy mestizo during that period.
In Plaza San Luis, there are replicas of 5 different Spanish-Filipino houses from different provinces. It also contains several other stops such as the White Knight Intramuros budget hotel, Barbara’s, which is a Filipino restaurant, and Bambike Ecotours, touring top Manila while riding on a Bamboo bike.
Bagumbayan Lights and Sound Museum
It is a museum wherein it tackles the story of Jose Rizal, the Philippine’s National Hero, from the start up until his execution. It’s a one hour walking tour/show that combines different visual effects, sound effects and other technologies that help makes the story come to life.
Bahay Tsinoy (Chinese-Filipino House)
The museum contains different wax figures and life sized dioramas that shows the roles of Chinese – Filipinos in the nation’s development from the Pre-Hispanic period to the present. It also houses different collections of 19th century documents and photographs as well as Chinese ceramics that dates as far as the 10th century.
One of the most visited Cathedral in the Philippines is Manila Cathedral. It was built in 1581 but due to unfortunate events during the colonial period and different calamities that occur, it underwent to several reconstructions. By 1958, the present structure was completed. The Cathedral’s architectural shape is same as that of a cross when looking at a bird’s eye view.
The Manila Cathedral is the ecclesiastical seat of the Archdiocese of Manila but during the Spanish colonial period, it was the seat of the Spanish Archbishop of Manila who had jurisdiction over the entire archipelago.
Today, it’s considered as a popular wedding venue and people often go out of their way to attend mass there.