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Historical Intramuros (Self Guided), Manila

Intramuros, a historical walled area within Manila, is the only part of the city where old Spanish-era influences are still plentiful. Complete with the Fort Santiago, the area has been a designated National Historic Landmark since 1951. Other than the Fort, it is also home to a number of grand churches built by different religious orders. To learn more about the historically-rich Intramuros district, follow this orientation walk.
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Historical Intramuros Map

Guide Name: Historical Intramuros
Guide Location: Philippines » Manila (See other walking tours in Manila)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • City Hall
  • SM City Manila
  • National Museum of the Philippines
  • Rizal Park
  • San Agustin Church
  • San Agustin Museum - Intramuros
  • Bahay Tsinoy
  • Cathedral-Basilica
  • Ayuntamiento Ruins
  • Fort Santiago
City Hall

1) City Hall

The City Hall of Manila is one of the most distinctive landmarks of the city. The City Hall is open to the public from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. The City Hall got negative reviews in the early days, because of its lack of architectural design, absence of an entrance, and random placement of the clock tower. Today, many people praise the City Hall and its design for the same reasons the complex was once vilified. The building proper has a shape similar to a coffin, or on the other hand, it's like the shield of a knight, only it lacks symmetry and regularity. Various services offered by the government can be accessed at the city hall. The Clock Tower is Illuminated by lights at night. On April 15, there was a bomb threat at the city hall. This event led to heavier security there.
Sight description based on wikipedia
SM City Manila

2) SM City Manila

SM City Manila is the first SM Supermall in the city of Manila. The mall features major SM brands like the SM Department Store, SM Supermarket, SM Cinemas & SM Foodcourt.
National Museum of the Philippines

3) National Museum of the Philippines (must see)

The National Museum of the Philippines was established as a natural history and ethnography museum in 1901. Its collections are held in two separate buildings. The main building, that was designed by Daniel Burnham and formerly housed the Congress of the Philippines, is now home to the National Art Gallery and division of Natural Sciences. The adjacent building, that once accommodated the Department of Finance, is the Division of Anthropology and Archeology and is commonly known as the Museum of the Filipino People. As a tribute to the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines, the museum strives to inspire the younger generation to learn from its past and work towards a brighter future.

The Museum regularly hosts seminars, exhibitions and lectures for one and all to learn more about the history of the country. In addition, it functions as a scientific institute and carries out research across its multiple divisions, including anthropology and archeology. While the anthropology section has over 10,000 artifacts, the botany section displays approximately 17,000 specimens of flora native to the country. The Museum also has a Planetarium that can accommodate a little over 300 people at a time and conducts various shows throughout the day, even on holidays. The Museum charges ₱ 100 for an adult visitor, which does not include charges for the Planetarium.
Rizal Park

4) Rizal Park (must see)

Rizal Park (also Luneta Park or colloquially Luneta) is an historical urban park located along Roxas Boulevard, City of Manila, adjacent to the old walled city of Intramuros. Since the Spanish Colonial Era, the Park has been a favourite leisure spot, and is frequented on Sundays and national holidays. It is one of the major tourist attractions of the City of Manila.

Situated by Manila Bay, Luneta is also an important site in Philippine history. The execution of national hero Dr. José Rizal on December 30, 1896, sparked the 1898 Philippine Revolution against the Kingdom of Spain. The area was officially renamed Rizal Park in his honour, and the monument enshrining his remains serves as the symbolic focal point of the Park. The Declaration of Philippine Independence from the American Occupation was held at the Park on July 4, 1946 as were later political rallies including those of Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino in 1986 that culminated in the EDSA Revolution. The Philippines' Kilometre Zero is located within the Park on Roxas Boulevard, in front of the Rizal Monument. It serves as the point from which all road distances from Manila are measured.
San Agustin Church

5) San Agustin Church (must see)

Behind the wall of the Intramuros, the oldest walled city within Manila is one of the oldest surviving churches of the country. The San Agustin Church, built by the Spanish during their colonial reign, represents the city’s rich and vibrant past.

The San Agustin Church has come a long way since its inception in 1607. Initially built with bamboo and wood in the early 16th century, the structure was razed due to a fire and was reconstructed with wood, which also failed to survive. It was then that the Augustinians decided to build a solid structure made out of stone, with an adjacent monastery. Based on the design by architect, Juan Macías, construction started off in 1586. Although, the project started with zeal and enthusiasm, the same spirit was not seen with the inflow of funds. Construction took more than 2 decades and by the time it was complete, the Church lost its chief designer Macias.

Despite having a shaky start, the San Agustin Church had a very eventful history. Plundered by the British forces in the 18th century, the Church miraculously survived many devastating earthquakes that had left the city of Manila in shambles. As a matter of fact, the San Agustin Church was the only public building to survive the massive 1863.
San Agustin Museum - Intramuros

6) San Agustin Museum - Intramuros (must see)

One of the most fascinating sites in Manila is the Intramuros or the walled city, which is the oldest district of the region. Built by the Spanish in the 16th century, the Intramuros survived right up until the mid 1900s after which it was reduced to ruins during the Second World War.

Although much of the ancient city was destroyed by the war, the San Agustin Museum offers its visitors an opportunity to appreciate the glory and legacy of the region. Adjacent to the San Agustin Church, one of the oldest surviving churches in the area, the Museum boasts a proud collection of artifacts, statues, sculptures and monuments that can transport you to the medieval years. Not only is the collection of the Museum worth the while, but the architecture of the building itself and the ambiance mesmerize the visitors.

The history of the structure is nothing short of a tale itself. Formerly a monastery, the building is of a great historical significance and offers a perfect enclave for the artifacts that it so proudly displays. The Museum is open from 8 am till noon and reopens after an hour right through to 6 o'clock in the evening. It has a strict no photography rule, which is quite disappointing considering the brilliant treasures the museum possesses.
Bahay Tsinoy

7) Bahay Tsinoy (must see)

The influence of the Chinese culture on the life of the Philippines goes back a long way. Bahay Tsinoy or the Chinese Filipino House was conceptualized and established to reiterate the harmony and understanding shared by the two communities in the country. Designed by Eva Penamora and Honrado Fernandez in 1996, the three storied building of Bahay Tsinoy was completed within three years and inaugurated in 1999. Funding for the building came from the Angelo King Foundation and contributions from the Filipino Chinese community.

Bahay Tsinoy is located in the Kaisa-Angelo King Heritage Center building along with the Chinbin See Memorial Library and Await Keng Auditorium. Divided into 12 sections, through its various collections the museum manages to depict the cultural and historical past of the two communities. Through photographs, the museum also tracks the contributions of the Chinese in the evolution of the Philippines. You can also find here artifacts such as historical Chinese porcelain, kitchenware, coins etc. For history enthusiasts, the Kaisa Research Center and Data Bank, that archives similar historical information, is also located here. Charges for admittance ₱ 100 for adults and ₱ 60 for children.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday 1 pm - 5pm.

8) Cathedral-Basilica (must see)

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception or the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica is one of the most important churches in Manila. Standing poignantly in the Intramuros district of Manila, the Cathedral has looked over the city for over 5 centuries. With its solid Neo-Romanesque architecture, one cannot ignore the almost over powering effect it has on its visitors and passersby. This is one of the many reasons that the Cathedral is one of the most famous venues for many locals as well as foreigners to share nuptials vows.

Despite its reputation and opulence, the Cathedral has had a very turbulent past. Although the Church has been on site since the early 16th century, the structure has changed several times over the years. The present, being the eighth reincarnated version of the original structure! The Cathedral was destroyed by earthquakes and terrible fires, but despite that, it has always managed to maintain that special possession not only in the city’s skyline, but also the hearts of the denizens.

With the Cathedral and the city having the same patroness, the Virgin Mary, the Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica is also the highest seat for the Archbishop of the country.
Ayuntamiento Ruins

9) Ayuntamiento Ruins

Built on Cabildo Street, the Ayuntamiento was the seat of the city council of Manila during the colonial era. Also known as Casa Consistoriales, the building was finished in 1738. However, the earthquake of 1863 caused it severe damage and repair works on the building were completed only in 1879. In 1901, the building became the headquarters of the 8th U.S. Army Corps and went on to host the first Assembly of the Philippines in 1907.

The Marble Hall or Salón de Mármol, held the first sessions of the Assembly of the Philippines on the 6th of October 1907. The structure was also home to administrative offices of the Assembly and was adorned with lavish interiors. It was also the site that came up with Philippine Legislature in 1935 and became the Supreme Court during American occupation. Unfortunately, the Second World War and the battle between the Japanese and American forces on the Philippine land completely destroyed the building and rendered it useless. What was once a grand edifice in the Intramuros district of Manila is now called the Ayuntamiento Ruins. Yet, the building remains a site to visit for every tourist of Manila and is in close proximity of other landmarks in the Intramuros district. The city administration is determined to restore the building to its former glory and has put the matter on a high priority list.
Fort Santiago

10) Fort Santiago (must see)

The location of Fort Santiago was once the site of the palace and kingdom of Rajah Suleiman, a Muslim chieftain of pre-Hispanic Manila. The fort is shielded by 22 foot high walls, with a thickness of 8 feet and an entrance measuring 40 feet high. It's located at the mouth of the Pasig River and it was once the premier defense fortress of the Spanish Government in the Philippines. During WWII, it was captured by the Japanese and it also sustained heavy damage from American and Filipino mortar shells during the Battle of Manila, in February 1945. It was later restored by the Intramuros Administration during the 1980s. Today, the fort serves as a museum which houses well-preserved legacies of the Spanish government, José Rizal (which is called the Plaza de Armas), Rizal Shrine, and the prison dungeons for criminals incarcerated there by Spanish officials.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Manila, Philippines

Create Your Own Walk in Manila

Create Your Own Walk in Manila

Creating your own self-guided walk in Manila is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
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