For hundreds of years, the walled city of Intramuros was Manila: the nerve center of the Spanish occupation in the Philippines, home to several thousand Spanish colonists, their families, and their Filipino servants.
Intramuros was erected on the ruins of a Malay settlement at the mouth of the Pasig River. Its strategic location attracted the attention of the conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who took over the area in 1571 and proclaimed it as the Philippine colony's new capital.
For 400 years, Intramuros was the center of Spanish political, religious, and military power in the region. (Read about churches in the Philippines.) The walled city suffered grievously through World War II; only San Agustin Church was left standing by war's end.
In the 1980s, the government led a major restoration effort that reconstructed Intramuros to its present state. Today, Intramuros is a prominent tourist spot where visitors can experience Spanish-era Manila through the walled city's churches, restaurants, and museums.
Begin at the Intramuros Visitors' Center at the restored Baluartillo de San Francisco Javier in Fort Santiago. This is an ideal jumping-off point for many walking tours through Intramuros. At the Center, you can pick up brochures on the places you plan to see, or find out about scheduled cultural events in the Walled City.
Fort Santiago is easily accessible via taxi, jeepney, or LRT (the Central Terminal Station is the closest stop).
The tour will take about two hours and involves a fair amount of walking. To fully enjoy your trip, you'll need:
- a carry bag for souvenirs
- comfortable shoes
- a camera
- bottled water - Manila is hot when it's not raining