The fortified walls of Intramuros, which literally means "inside the walls", was the seat of government during the Spanish Colonial Period. Nearly three-mile-long circuit of massive stone walls and fortifications that almost completely surrounds the entire district protect the city from any invaders.
Being a city within a city and the address to be during those times, Intramuros featured well-planned streets, plazas, the Governor’s Palace and numerous churches.
However, many buildings were destroyed during World War II. Today, Intramuros is the best venue if you want to have a glimpse of how the Filipinos lived during the Spanish colonial rule.
Among the most popular places to visit in Intramuros are the The Manila Cathedral, St. Augustine Church and Fort Santiago.
Fort Santiago is the former military headquarters of the Spanish colonial government. Although the fort sustained very heavy damage during the 1945 Battle of Manila, several key portions of the compound were subsequently restored - including its iconic gate with a wooden relief featuring Santiago Matamoros (St. James the Moor-slayer), the patron saint of Spain.
It is now considered a major landmark and one of Manila's most popular tourist attractions, partly because José Rizal - the national hero of the Philippines - was imprisoned here prior to his execution on 30 Dec 1896. The Rizal Shrine, a small museum dedicated to his life and work, is housed in a restored section of one of the fort's former barracks.
Formally known as the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Manila Cathedral is the fifth stone church of Manila. It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila and one of the most important churches in the Philippines. It was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The church appears as a giant cross when viewed from above.
Manila Cathedral is temporarily closed for repairs. No definite date has been given for the reopening, but reports say the work may require at least one year to complete.
St. Augustine Church
Built in 1599, St. Augustine Church is the oldest stone church in the Philippines. Just like other structures in intramuros, the church was also destroyed and rebuilt many times.
St. Augustine Church features magnificent trompe-l'oeil ceilings and a splendid high altar. Miguel López de Legazpi (1502-1572), the first Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines, is buried in a tomb near the high altar.