Tag Archives: places to visit in intramuros

Let’s Explore Manila : Fort Santiago

After exploring the different streets of Intramuros, we headed to one of its premier tourist attractions and one of the most important historical sites in Manila, the Fort Santiago. Fort Santiago is one of the oldest fortifications in Manila which was built in 1571.
20170101_163800tThe gate of Fort Santiago has been a common sight for me because the Grand Marian procession usually held in front of this area (along the Plaza Moriones) but the last time I went inside was decades ago! I think I was in kindergarten and it was part of our Field trip and I can barely remember anything about Fort Santiago.
20170101_164005tThe first fort was built from logs and earth but was destroyed in Limahong Attack in 1574. The Stone fort was built between 1589 to 1592. Much like any of the defensive structures in Intramuros, the Fort Santiago was also destroyed during the Battle of Manila. Many people were imprisoned here during the Spanish period and the second world war and many lives were lost here as well. Even our national hero , Dr Jose Rizal was imprisoned here before his execution in 1896.
20170101_164101tThe gate of Fort Santiago was one of the structures that was utterly destroyed but was reconstructed and renovated to place it back to its former glory. The 40ft high gate was adorned with many notable details. The top most portion lies the image of Saint James (Santiago in Spanish) where the fort was named after. Under the image of Saint James is the Coat of Arms of Spain.IMG_0087tOutside the gate, you’ll find a moat which passes through the Pasig River
20170101_160848tUnlike the other Baluarte in Intramuros, the Fort Santiago is not freely accessible. There is an entrance fee of Php75 per head and I think it is very reasonable considering that they are constantly making efforts to restore and preserve the place.

20170101_162427The Plaza Moriones was currently under construction when we went there but the first structure that you will notice after passing through the ticket booth is the Baluartillo and Reducto De San Francisco Javier
20170101_162018tUnderneath the Baluartillo is a tunnel that is supposed to take you to the Reducto De San Francisco Javier. I’m not sure if the tunnel is publicly accessible but there seem to be another way going to the reducto where the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is located.
20170101_162325tYou can get a great top view of the Reducto De San Francisco Javier on top of the Baluartillo
20170101_162345tThe Shrine of Guadalupe is located at the center while the entire place is surrounded by thick walls and cannons facing the Pasig river.
20170101_162129tOne of the accessible areas on top of the baluartillo
20170101_162542tWalking along the side walks across the Plaza Moriones, you’ll spot some old and rusty canons on display20170101_162659t20170101_162651tI also spotted an Anchor near the Picnic Area

20170101_163144tAnother interesting spot in Fort Santiago are the ruins of American barracks. It is basically an abandoned building and there’s really nothing much to see inside. It is not publicly accessible either so all you can do is to gaze at this historically significant structure.20170101_162923tIf they can only talk, they probably have so many stories to tell right? 20170101_163103tOn the main gate, there’s a marker stating that senator Elpidio Quirino was imprisoned in this building for 187 days in 1948.

20170101_164310tOnce you entered the Fort Santiago, the first thing you will notice are the metal footsteps. These footsteps were used to represent the final walk our national hero from his cell to the location of the actual execution.20170101_164330tI wasn’t able to count the steps though.

PLAZA DE ARMAS20170101_164345tAt the heart of Fort Santiago lies the spacious Plaza De Armas. It is one of two major plazas in Intramuros, the other being the central Plaza de Roma. Historical evidence may suggest that the plaza is the site where the wooden palisade of Rajah Sulayman, on top of which Fort Santiago was built, was located. The landscape of Plaza de Armas is not as colorful as Plaza Moriones (outside the Fort Santiago) and Plaza De Roma (in front of Manila Cathedral) but spacious enough to relax.
20170101_164459tIMG_0104tA statue of Jose Rizal at the heart of the Plaza De Armas

20170101_164519tWe could have explored the Rizal Shrine in full extent but unfortunately, the site was closed for holiday. We failed to get the chance to enter the shrine but we were able to enjoy looking at those brick wall (ladrillo) ruins. 
20170101_164553tThese brick walls are said to be one of the oldest structures in Fort Santiago.This is also the site where Jose Rizal was imprisoned and the place where he wrote one of his masterpiece “Mi Ultimo Adios”20170101_164700t20170101_164649f

20170101_170458tOpposite the Rizal Shrine is another interesting site. The ruins of Rajah Sulayman Theater.s an open air theater under the grounds of Fort Santiago which was ruins of a former Spanish military barracks. It had served as a highly atmospheric setting for contemporary theater-in-the-round productions by PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association).20170101_170613tThe ruins of Rajah Sulayman Theater , named in honor of the leader of the Mohammedan Malays who first inhabited the area.20170101_170917tIf lucky enough, you can also get a scenic view of the Pasig river20170101_170000t
20170101_173023tAfter taking a quick rest in Plaza De Armas, my brother and I decided to leave Intramuros and went to our hotel in Otis. We left Intramuros via Soriano Ave. We had an insane “kuliglig” ride going to our hotel and I will share all our experiences in my next #LetsExploreManila entry

UPDATE: According to Intramuros Administration, Fort Santiago is now OPEN DAILY stating from 8AM to 9PM

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Let’s Explore Manila : The Papier Tole Souvenir Shop

20170101_134750tIf there is something I wouldn’t miss buying when traveling, those are the souvenirs. In my case, I always make sure to buy a fridge magnet so that I have something to place at home and something to remind me of my recent escapades.  When we get to Manila, we had a hard time looking for a souvenir shop. Well, we apparently went there on a Holiday (it’s New Year’s Day) so most establishments were closed. Luckily we spotted a very interesting shop just beside the San Agustin church, The Papier Tole Souvenir Shop and I think it is just a perfect place to buy your souvenirs!
20170101_134812tThe Papier Tole Shop is a very unique shop in Intramuros which is as old as the other establishments in this historical place in Manila. The shop is said to be established since 1668. No further details were mentioned though regarding on The Papier Tole Shop’s history. I’m not sure if they have been there in Intramuros prior to the Battle of Manila and how they managed to survive such.20170101_135450tAs what the title of the shop suggests, they cater special crafts, the papier tole, a traditional paper craft which involves cutting out sections taken from identical printed designs and layering these cutouts up using 3D foam squares or silicone glue and make the craft look 3D (thus it is also called as 3D Decoupage).  With our current technology today where 3D prints can be made in an instant, this kind of paper craft method is somehow dying.20170101_135459tThe Papier Tole Shop in Intramuros is not just limited to paper tole crafts, they also cater a wide range of items from postcards, figurines, fridge magnets and a whole lot more but what makes it so special is that almost all the items will feature the historical side of Intramuros and Manila. Prints were merely inspired from different places in the city including the Manila Cathedral, the jeepneys, the calesas, the Rizal park, Manila City hall and a whole lot more!
20170101_135441tStationaries are also one of the common items found in this shop.It is very interesting to note that despite of the small space being occupied by this shop, there’s just too many things to see when you get inside. It cannot accommodate many customers though.20170101_135301tFigurines and many wooden sculptures20170101_135154tFridge Magnets with amazing Intramuros and Manila prints ♥20170101_135057tWall decors and puppets
20170101_135046tNotebooks, planners and stationaries with Manila themes
20170101_134941tWonderfully crafted masks20170101_134907tI’m not really sure what are these wooden toys are called but they were all seemingly inspired or influenced by Chinese. They reminds me of Matryoshka Dolls of Russia

The Papier Tole Souvenir Shop is just located just across the San Agustin Church.

We left Intramuros around 6 pm and we headed to our hotel in Otis. But before sharing you our staycation experience, we have another place to feature, the Fort Santiago!

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Let’s Explore Manila : A Journey to the Past ~ Intramuros (Part 2)

One thing I learned when exploring Intramuros is that you cannot explore all the places in one day. There’s just too many to explore and a day is not enough. In fact, our first day in Manila were all consumed just by exploring Intramuros and take note, we went back the next day to visit another popular spot in this historical city. Anyway, this is the continuation to the first part of my Intramuros journey (Check : Journey To The Past ~ Intramuros Part 1).
Plaza De Roma is actually few walks away from different notable buildings in Intramuros. The Manila Cathedral (Check Manila Cathedral) can be found on the southern side.
Palacio Del Governador
On the west side of the Plaza De Roma lies another huge building, the Palacio Del Governador.  It currently houses offices of the Government of the Philippines but during the Spanish era, the site served as the state residence of the Governor-General of the Philippines. 20170101_144202tThe first palace was built in 1599 near the Plaza de Armas in Fort Santiago and was destroyed by an earthquake in 1645. It was moved to the present site which once houses the Supreme Court (Real Audiencia)

Casas Consistoriales / Ayuntiamento
On the Eastern side of the plaza is white building, the Casas Consistoriales or better known to many as the Ayuntiamento, the Seat  of the City Council of Manila.  The council of Manila was consist of two alcaldes (city leaders), eight oidores (judges), a clerk, and a chief constable. The Ayuntamiento was destroyed in 1945 during the Battle of Manila, with only the outer walls of the first floor remaining and the lot repurposed as a parking lot. 20170101_144623tToday, Ayuntiamento is finally open to the public as a tourist attraction. Ayuntiamento is open every Tuesdays and Fridays from 11am to 12 pm and 4pm to 5 pm with an admission fee of Php40 per head. Students and Government staffs can access the place for Free.

Aduana Building / Intendencia
Just few walks away from the plaza, you will encounter an interesting ruins of Aduana Building or better known to many as the Intendencia. While some building were being reconstructed to bring them back to their former glory, the Intendencia is seemingly left untouched. 20170101_152736tThe Aduana, or Custom House, was built in Intramuros to attract merchants to remain within its walls rather than outside of it. The building suffered sever damages all through the years especially during the Battle of Manila. Today, the ruins were remained but there were plans that they will reconstruct the building and will become the new office of the National Archives of the Philippines.

20170101_152338tPlaza De Mexico
Not too far from the Intendencia building is another notable plaza in Intramuros, the Plaza De Mexico or Plaza Mexico. The plaza is situated just beside the Pasig River. The square was named Plaza de Mexico in 1964 to commemorate the 4th centenary of the expedition of Miguel López de Legazpi and Andres de Urdaneta from New Spain (Mexico) and the historic Manila-Acapulco galleon trade relations between the two nations that lasted 250 years.20170101_152650tAside from the relaxing ambiance here, you will also spot some historical markers and sculptures in the area. The one prior to the image above is the “IV Centenary of the Mexico–Philippines Maritime Expedition (IV Centenario De la Expedicion Maritima Mexico Pilipinas)” Monument donated by the Mexican Secretary of The Navy Shipyards during the celebrations of the Year of Mexican-Philippine Friendship in 1964. While a Marker with a sculpted image of Galleon can be found on the other side of the square (The Manila–Acapulco Galleon marker).

20170101_152436tThe Riverside
Another interesting location in Intramuros is the Riverside. The strategic location of Manila along the bay and at the mouth of Pasig River made Intramuros an ideal place to trade with merchants. Good thing, there were constant effort to keep the Pasig River clean which give us a relaxing ambiance on the Riverside.

20170101_153139tColegio De San Juan De Letran
There are actually two markers placed on this site. The first one is for the old Beaterio-Colegio de Santa Catalina, a college for girls established in 1706. The building, however, was destroyed in 1941 by Japanese bombs. Unlike other establishments in Intramuros, the college of Santa Catalina was not reconstructed on its original site, instead, they found a new place in Legarda St in Sampaloc Manila. Colegio de San Juan de Letran, on the other hand, later acquired the property for the expansion of its campus.
20170101_153245bwThe Colegio De San Juan De Letran is a school that came from two institutions; The Colegio de los Niños Huerfanos de San Juan De Letran and Colegio de Huerfanos de San Pedro Y San Pablo. The two institutions merged in 1640 as an exclusive school for boys under the name Colegio De San Juan De Letran. Much like any buildings in Intramuros, Colegio De San Juan De Letran was utterly destroyed during the World War II but it was reopened in 1946 on the same site, making this college as one of the two original schools remaining in Intramuros today.

20170101_153105tMuralla Street
Aside from the General Luna St, Muralla is another notable route in Intramuros. It may not offer those visually stunning and picturesque scenery found in General Luna but the place is equally beautiful. Muralla Street has been one of the paths used every Grand Marian procession. 20170101_153616tPassing through Muralla St means walking along with those thick defensive walls. You can actually walk on top of these walls that will take you to some of the places bastions and bulwarks including the Baluarte de San Andress and San Gabriel.

Baluarte De San Gabriel
We concluded our first day tour in Intramuros by  exploring one of the bulwarks in Intramuros but unlike the Baluarte of San Diego, Baluarte De San Gabriel is freely accessible. You can still see those well-preserved defensive walls and I’m glad that they didn’t left the place to rot. It is seemingly well maintained and you can barely spot vandalism on its walls.20170101_154536tThe Baluarte de San Gabriel was built in 1593 and is considered as one of Intramuros’ most important defense in the north that protected the riverside. Rampant cannons overlooked the Parian in Binondo. It was the first site of the Parian de Manila and also the former site of the Hospital De San Gabriel (founded in 1587). The Baluarte De San Gabriel was also destroyed during the Battle of Manila and was restored in 1989.

Colegio De Santa Rosa
While my brother and I were both looking for the exit, we spotted this eye catching building. With an overly pink coated building, this one will never get unnoticed. It’s the Colegio De Santa Rosa which was established for the education of indias, or native Filipinas during the late 18th century in Intramuros. The building was also destroyed during the Battle of Manila forcing the sisters to transfer the school to Santa Mesa, Manila. They returned in Intramuros in 1948 with new administrators, the Sisters of the Congregation of the Servants of St. Joseph.

Of all the exploration we did, we learned so much about the history of Intramuros and how tragic it was during the Battle of Manila. Considering that most of the buildings here and even the defense facilities were utterly destroyed, i can’t imagine how terrifying it was during the time of war. I can’t visualize the chaos. We are lucky enough that we are not born in such era but knowing how huge the historical significance of Intramuros is, we should learn to preserve and to take care of this place and the memories lies within them.

While exploring the Intramuros, I was actually  hoping to spot a place where I can buy some souvenirs. Yeah I know, it’s Manila and it’s very common but I still want to buy something to make this trip memorable and we discovered the place! Will post more about this unique shop in my next #LetsExploreManila entry.

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Let’s Explore Manila (Prologue)

Last January, a friend offered me a free staycation in a hotel in Manila. It was first of January so I thought it would be a great idea to start my year with a travel by exploring the the capital region of the country, Manila! Well, the problem is that I don’t have enough budget that day (blame it on the recent Holidays) but I realized that it could be a great challenge for me and my brother. Can we really explore and enjoy the tour in Manila for 2 days and 1 night with limited budget to spend? Well, we did and it was truly a blast! Now allow me to share you a prologue to my #LetsExploreManila travel series!
Our first destination was actually the Intramuros and interestingly, our entire days was consumed by exploring this historical place and take note, it was not enough and we had to go back here the next day.

20170101_132302tThe so-called “Walled City” greeted us with an overwhelming amount of old houses. Almost all houses here have huge historical significance. Did you know that there was actually seven churches erected in Intramuros. Out of seven, only two managed to survive including the Minor Basilica of Immaculate Conception or Manila Cathedral and the San Agustin Church. The five others were utterly damaged and destroyed during the Battle of Manila

“Fort Santiago”
20170101_163800tIntramuros is strategically designed. There are eight defense gates including the Fort Santiago which is now declared as a national shrine. The place is also armed with many defense structures like numerous bulwarks (baluarte) , most notably the Baluarte De San Diego and San Andres. The place is also armed with Ravelins, and reductos which are strategically localted along the walls of Intramuros following the design of medieval fortifications.

“Go Otis”
20170102_094700tAfter that tiring adventure in Intramuros, my brother and I went Go Hotels where our reservation was made. It’s just a typical budget hotel and ideal enough for budget travelers like me. It was also our first time to ride a “Kuliglig” and I don’t think it would happen again real soon haha

“Paco Park and Cemetery”
20170102_102222tAfter leaving our hotel the next day, we went to another historical place in Manila, the Paco Park and Cemetery. The Paco Park is a recreational garden and was once Manila’s municipal cemetery built by the Dominicans during the Spanish colonial period. Paco Park has also become a very popular venue for weddings and receptions for couples who prefer garden-like settings.

“Rizal Park”
20170102_111720tA trip to Manila will not be completed without dropping by at its central park, the Luneta or Rizal Park! It is one of the major attractions in Manila but is also a place with a very huge role in Philippine history. This is actually the place where our national hero, Jose Rizal, was executed. The place is also divided into many gardens (each has entrance fees) and many other scenery to enjoy. Oh and of course, don’t miss out “Tore de Manila”, it’s one of Manila’s greatest landmarks today you know haha

“Manila Zoo”
IMG_0228tOkay this is not a field trip… but yeah it is! I was like a kid jumping out of joy when I was able to convinced my brother to visit Manila Zoo. The last time I went here is when I was in Kindergarten and I can barely remember the place. All I know is that there is one elephant named Mali and a couple of Giraffes but they are no longer there. Mali’s condition was heartbreaking and I hope they can do something about it. This aging elephant either needs a companion or should be taken back to its natural habitat.

“Baluarte De San Diego”
20170102_145519tSo you think it was over?… No Not yet, we went back to Intramuros to visit another interesting place. My brother was very eager to visit the Baluarte De San Diego  because this was the place where the old Encatadia was shot and he is a big fan of this show.  It was really remarkable and I’m glad that they were able to maintain this place. Below these thick walls is a wonderful garden. 

“Manila Bay”
IMG_0854ttWe concluded our tour by capturing the lovely sunset of Manila Bay.  I never really expect that this place which is just beside the road (with heavy traffic) could offer a picturesque atmosphere. I personally love the part with many yachts.

Much like I always do, I will have a separate entries for each destination. I will our first Intramuros adventure in my next #LetsExploreManila entry.

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