It was a very beautiful Saturday morning when we planned to have a trip to Intramuros. It is an hour away from Metro Manila were the center of business and modern living are in. The last time I had been in this old city was 15 years ago, so I’m really excited about it.
Intramuros comes from a Latin phrase “within the walls” because it is surrounded by old brick walls to protect the city during the Spanish colonization. Its main purpose is to provide a defense mechanism during the war against the Japanese during the second world war. After the war, it has been reconstructed in 1951. Outside these walls are called “extramuros”.
As we entered the main gate of Intramuros, you will feel a different ambiance. A feeling like you are time travelling from future to old Hispanic times where you can see old brick walls and roads, horses with carriage, a man wearing this old-fashioned guard costume to guide the tourist.
Fort Santiago is our first destination inside Intramuros. As we stepped out of the cab, the front gate is rich in scenic natural heritage with vendors selling souvenir items that you can bring along inside the park and a tour guide that will offer you to take you around the city using a carriage. After we paid the entrance fee, we decided to take a walk instead of renting a carriage and a tour guide. It is more fun to walk around on your own.
Fort Santiago or Fuerte de Santiago (Spanish) was named after the patron saint of Spain Saint James the Great. Jose Rizal, our national hero, was imprisoned before he is executed in 1896.
We’ve seen different foreign visitors like Koreans have been accompanied by their tour guide explaining the historical background of the place and took pictures behind the ancient walls. The main gate of Fort Santiago is about a kilometer away from the entrance so you will enjoy the beautiful gardens along your way with statues and fountains.
Each landmark has their own description describing the scenes that had happened in the place. We’ve seen how they preserved the place. The main gate of Fort Santiago was reconstructed after World War II and it’s been called a Shrine of Freedom because of the heroism of the Filipinos in the war against Japan.
As we walked inside the Fort, we saw the bronze footsteps of Jose Rizal as the final walk of his life from his cell to Luneta which is the location of the actual execution. Some of the historical landmarks have been used for picnics, theater acts and as a promenade.
Other attractions that have been preserved are the prison dungeons, where Spanish officials have been used for criminals. The Jose Rizal museum where his artifacts have been preserved.
Outside Fort Santiago are souvenir shops where you can buy native collections made from bamboo, abaca and coconut perfectly handmade by the natives.
Churches in Intramuros have a great impact in the history. Manila Cathedral is under reconstruction for 2 years, so they held mass in another historical church San Agustin which has been established 440 years ago. It is 5 minutes away from Manila Cathedral.
A wedding ceremony has been held when we arrived at the church. We also spotted some tourist who wants to see the old museum. The church came to a monastery built in 1586 designed by Juan Marcias. The San Agustin Museum charges 100 pesos for adult and 80 pesos for seniors and 50 pesos for children. You will be fascinated by huge old paintings, stone and wood carvings, old wooden organ and other artifacts. It took us an hour to explore the whole church museum.
It is truly a rewarding experience to explore Intramuros. It is highly recommended for tourists to visit which inexpensive and for field trips it is very educational. We end up eating Filipino dish when we got back to the city. It is indeed a wonderful experience.