I blogged about staying at The Bayleaf Hotel during the first few days of our Manila trip. The hotel is actually located within the confines of Intramuros, but our itinerary was so packed we didn’t have time to explore the place. So we took another day off to cover some ground.
Intramuros is Spanish for ‘within the walls’. This centuries-old district was founded as the seat of the Spanish government during their conquest of the Philippines in the 1500s. Stone walls were erected to keep pirates at bay. These structures are at least 2ms thick and 6m high. Within the walls are various historical landmarks such as churches and gardens, as well as museums, souvenir shops and several colleges (so you’ll see a big student crowd milling in and out of the place).
We walked up a rampart and onto the walls itself. They were shaped like square basins, with the floor being lower in the middle.
Did you know that most of these structures were destroyed in World War II during Japanese occupation? Only the Church of San Agustin still stood by the end of the fighting. What visitors see today comes from painstaking restoration and rebuilding.
If any place is haunted in Manila, it’d be Intramuros. The place has seen some extremely horrific crimes, especially in the Battle of Manila where thousands of innocent civilians, even women and children, were raped, mutilated and killed. Within Intramuros alone, more than 10,000 Japanese soldiers were killed during American bombardment.
‘How to Pose with a Cannon’.
Walking along the walls, we passed by the Manila Bulletin, the largest broadsheet newspaper in circulation with over 100 years of history.
Tourists can ride the horse-drawn kalesa (carriage) to tour Intramuros.
We thought we’d be able to walk the entire length around the walls, but some sections were cordoned off. So down to ground level we went..
As I mentioned earlier, there are many colleges and universities within Intramuros. (Above) University of the City of Manila, which was a government funded, tuition free institution started in the 1960s. It accepted elite students from public high schools and was consistently ranked as one of the top unis in the Phils. Today it has about 10,000 students in 12 colleges, 7 graduates and 2 professional schools.
The pink and white Don Pepe Atienzo Hall.
Moving on.. E was distracted and stepped into dog shit while I pointed out an interesting looking building to him lol.
We were attracted by a ‘free art gallery’ sign outside the National Commission for Culture and Arts building. As soon as we stepped in, we were greeted by a mini orchestra playing classical music – staff members practicing a show for the day. A small gallery on the left housed works by Filipino photographers covering a variety of subjects.
A series depicting life of Filipino transgenders.
An interesting art piece there was a statue buried up to the waist, which visitors can ‘stone’. It was disturbing but definitely had shock value and highlighted the horrible treatment of women in some countries.
Residential/shop area within Intramuros.
An old fraternity house called the Knights of Colombus.
Anyway, we’re not done with Intramuros, so stay tuned!
A good article on how to get to Intramuros: here