Amid the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila is a city almost preserved in time. Surrounded by its signature stone walls, Intramuros stands out as a time capsule of Manila’s rich and varied history. Established as early as the 1570s at the dawn of the Spanish colonization period, Intramuros now serves as the perfect opportunity for tourists to travel back in time and find out more about the country’s colorful history!
What to expect
Many historic tours you can find in Manila are almost completely held within Intramuros, and for good reason—the Walled City has some of the oldest structures you’ll find in the entire country. Walking around Intramuros will make you feel like you’re walking in 16th century Manila, complete with the cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages!
One of its most famous attractions is the San Agustin Church, the oldest stone church in the Philippines. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the San Agustin Church has played many roles during the various wars that plagued the Philippines in the past five centuries, most notably being the only building in Intramuros that was left intact after the World War II bombings. Today, its interior contains various historical and religious pieces, and it continues to open its doors to mass goers and tourists alike.
A few minutes away from San Agustin Church is Casa Manila, an ancestral house modeled after a rich Spaniard’s mansion from centuries ago. Beyond its eye-catching architecture, Casa Manila is a full-fledged historical museum, containing furniture and paintings that capture the essence of Spanish colonial lifestyle.
In one of Intramuros’ corners lies the main gate of Fort Santiago, which has similarly played many significant roles in the history of the Philippines, ranging from a citadel to a prison. After admiring its stone facade, tourists can also find many historic objects and memorabilia preserved within its rooms, including items from the fort’s most famous prisoner, Jose Rizal.
These three attractions are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the historical sights you’ll see around Intramuros. From its culturally rich museums to its beautiful plazas, Intramuros is a one-of-a-kind portrait of Philippine history.
Where to experience it
Intramuros is located within the city of Manila. From the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, it will take you around 30 minutes to get to Intramuros via land. If you’re staying in Makati City, it will also take you around 30 minutes, while if you’re coming from Quezon City, that travel time increases to around an hour.