Intramuros, the Walled City of Manila
A trip to Manila isn’t complete without visiting its historical heart. That’s why we at TripGuru suggest a trip to Intramuros, the so-called Walled City, a 64-hectare, centuries-old fortress in the middle of the metro.
Travelers can first drop by the newly-restored Manila Cathedral, first built in 1581. Then they can visit the dungeons of Fort Santiago, where Philippine hero Jose Rizal and later World War II prisoners were incarcerated; now transformed into a garden. Or they can walk down the cobblestones of General Luna Street to visit San Agustin Church, the country’s oldest church, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They can also visit Casa Manila, a reconstruction of a Spanish colonial house; and Bahay Tsinoy, chronicling the history of the Filipino-Chinese community. And for a unique experience, travelers can simply walk along the entire length of Intramuros’ walls for free—there is an access ramp up to the walls near the Victoria Street gate.
Other than walking along the walls, there’s the rest of the area to explore. Unlike other historic zones, Intramuros is not some relic fossilized in time. It is also home to five universities and colleges, businesses (including the headquarters of two broadsheets), government offices, and even a residential area. Hence, don’t be surprised if the area is full of college students on a weekday. But on a weekend, Intramuros becomes wedding central. It’s common to see guests decked in formal wear and high heels, walking from the churches to the event venues in the area, trying to keep their balance on the cobblestone streets. Parts of the area’s main streets have been also made into a pedestrian and bike-only lanes.
Of course, getting inside the Walled City is no problem. Several jeepney routes pass inside the area; from Quiapo, simply ride a jeep plying the Pier 15 route and asked to be dropped off at the Manila Cathedral. For those going by train, ride the LRT-1 and disembark at Central Station. From that station, walk towards the Manila City Hall underpass, then use it to cross to the other side to reach the Walled City. And if you’re not pressed for time, a ferry ride is available from Guadalupe, Makati to Plaza Mexico Station in Intramuros. That said, it’s recommended to visit the area early in the morning to avoid the crowds; avoid it during the rainy season as transportation can be difficult.