I spent almost 7 years living in Metro Manila and I never went out of my comfort zone, aka campus and workplace. Well, not until the opportunity to travel abroad came. So here’s my little escapade around the busy capital city of the Philippines starting with the Walled City of Intramuros several months before my departure.
One of the best reasons to go to Intramuros is to experience the rich history of the country particularly during the Spanish era. Intramuros is Latin for “within the walls”, and this old district was basically the headquarters of the Spanish government in the Philippines. Also known as Ciudad Murada or “Walled City”, it features a 0.67 sq. kms or 0.26 sq mi series of stone walls and fortifications surrounding churches, houses, monuments, schools, convents, monasteries and government offices.
There are four, or five, ways to get to the city: by private vehicle, by taxi, by public jeepney, by bus, by train. So, no excuses. Lol. However, the best way to really explore the district is by foot. Yep, a walking tour. There will be lots of kalesas or horse-driven carriages on the streets though which offer tours around Intramuros.
1. Plaza de Roma
Getting off from a public jeepney, I decided to find a nice spot in Plaza de Roma where I could sit and wait for my friends. This plaza is a perfect meeting place because it is surrounded by the Manila Cathedral, the Palacio del Gobernador, and the Ayuntamiento. And not very far is a strip of fast-food restaurants. 😛
At the center of the plaza, you will find a statue of King Carlos IV of Spain. It was erected in 1824 to thank him for sending a shipment of smallpox vaccine to the country.
To keep an eye on yourself and your belonging is a good tip you will get from me as all kinds of people dwell in Manila, but I would also say that it would be worth your while to try and reach out to some of those people, especially the children. As I sat waiting, I noticed this cute little girl who seemed to have familiarized herself way too much with the streets. But the most fascinating thing is when she shouted, “Horse! Horse!” upon seeing a kalesa passing by. So cute! 😛
2. Palacio del Gobernador
After almost an hour, lol, I finally saw my travel buddies approaching. And off we went around Intramuros. Since we are already in Plaza de Roma, we took some time to gaze at the 8-storey building called Palacio del Gobernador. This structure was the official residence of the Spanish Governor-General who held the highest office in the country, representing the King of Spain.
3. Manila Cathedral
To the southeast of the plaza is one of the most important churches in the country, the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception or more commonly known as the Manila Cathedral. This church is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as the current Archbishop. Originally built in the 1500s, the cathedral was destroyed several times by natural catastrophes. The images of the church you will see below is the eight “rebuilding” and it was completed in the 1950s.
Manila Cathedral is also one of the most “in-demand” churches for weddings and other special occasions. And one of the most expensive as well. Woot! Peace..
4. Plazuela de Sta. Isabel
A few steps from the plaza is another one, much smaller though, called Plazuela de Sta. Isabel. Here you will find a memorial monument dedicated to the victims of the Second World War.
5. Casa Manila Museum
Have you ever wondered how it’s like to live in an upper-class house in Manila during the Spanish colonial period? For 75 pesos, you can get in Casa Manila Museum, a good representation of a Spanish colonial home filled with antique furniture and artwork. Even the bathrooms are Spanish-inspired!
6. San Agustin Church
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this Baroque church houses a beautiful interior with a high altar and trompe-l’œil ceilings. The external facade, however, can be deceiving as it looks like an ordinary Catholic Church in the Philippines. But its interior is truly magnificent! The first Governor-General of the country, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (1502-1572), was buried in a tomb near the altar.
San Agustin Church was also named a National Historical Landmark by the Philippines Government in 1976.
The landmarks mentioned above are just some of the things you’d see in Intramuros! I haven’t even gotten to the walls yet. Lol. But yeah, the perks of having lots of time to blog. So see you in my next entry as I continue to write about Manila. Hugs ♥