Intramuros might be a remnant of the colonial past of the Philippines, but it remains flourishing. Within the Walled City are historical landmarks built during the Spanish era and commercial establishments that make it one of the top tourist destinations in Manila.
Tour Guide: What Are The Things You Can Do in Intramuros?
1. See: Historical Attractions Inside the Walls
Built in 1571, Intramuros was the seat of government and political power when most of the country was under the Spanish rule. It was also the center of religion and commerce during that period. Hence, the area is thriving with historical albeit refurbished buildings, monuments, and most notably, fortification structures.
Below are key landmarks inside the Walled Cited:
• Fort Santiago: A citadel that served as a garrison for Spanish artillery soldiers. It was also used as a prison during the Spanish and American colonial eras. Jose Rizal was imprisoned before his execution in 1896. Today, the structure houses the Rizal Shrine museum that features several memorabilia from Rizal.
• Manila Cathedral: The Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila and one of the most important churches in the Philippines. The structure features a Neo-Romanesque architecture. It is also known for an external structure characterized by stonework, stained glass windows and mosaics, and vaulted ceilings.
• San Agustin Church: Another landmark church in Metro Manila and inside the Walled City is San Agustin Church. First completed in 1607 and after undergoing several iterations, it features a Baroque style architecture. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The defining features of this church are its high altar and trompe-l’œil ceilings. Note that it is also a monastery complex and it houses a priceless collection of religious artworks and important cultural artifacts.
• Casa Manila: This museum features a recreation of a conventional upper-class colonial home inside Intramuros during the Spanish era. Visitors are essentially given a glimpse of what life was like for wealthy families during then. Inside the recreated house are antique furniture, artwork, and other colonial artifacts.
• Bahay Tsinoy: Dedicated to the history of the Filipino-Chinese community of Manila, the museum generally exhibits recreated lives of early Filipino-Chinese while also housing rare prints and photographs, ceramics collection, and rare shell collection. There are also inscriptions and tours detailing the history of early Chinese settlers in the country from their first arrival to the establishment of a community,
• Museo de Intramuros: A new addition to the museums inside the Walled City is Museo de Intramuros. Built from the ruins of San Ignacio Church. Note that the building was reduced to rubbles when it burned for four days during the Battle of Manila in 1945. After a reconstruction project that transpired in phases in 2011, it is now a museum that presents the story of Catholic evangelization the country through an exhibit showcasing images of various Catholic religious orders in the Philippines, as well as collection of ecclesiastical art, furniture, vestments, and textiles.
• Bulwarks: Several notable bulwarks surround Intramuros. These include the Baluarte de San Andres, Baluarte de San Francisco de Dilao, and Baluarte de San Diego, among others. Tourists can walk on top of these raised structures to navigate around Intramuros, see a portion of Manila cityscape, and check the retired canons that once guarded the fortified city.
2. Eat: Food Crawl Within Intramuros
A tour would not be complete without trying the food a locale has to offer. Aside from its tourist attractions, Intramuros offers a range of food choices served by restaurants and street vendors. The following are the top food establishments and areas inside the Walled City:
• Barbara’s heritage Restaurant: Located across the street from San Agustin Church, this establishment serves traditional Filipino and Hispanic dishes. Some of its best sellers include beep salpicao, chicken flambé, beef kare-kare, and lumpiang ubod,
• Coco Bango Café and Restaurant: Within the White Knight Hotel is another restaurant serving Filipino dishes and a small selection of American and European dishes, as well as Japanese and Chinese dishes. It also offers set meals good for six persons. The entire menu is extensive and caters to different preferences.
• Ilustrado: Serves Filipino-Spanish cuisine that includes “rellenong bangus” or stuffed milkfish, stuffed chicken relleno, a variety of kare-kare, sinigang, and morcon Plaridel, among others. It also has a small selection of European beers, local bears, blended scotch and bourbon, vodka, and tequila.
• Ristorante Delle Mitre: This casual restaurant features simple Filipino dishes inspired by the favorite meals of bishops and clergies. The food selection includes “okoy na kalabasa” or flat shrimp cakes made from squash, “empanadita” or small meat-stuffed pastry, as well as traditional desserts such as pitchi-pitchi and ginataang halo-halo.
• 9 Spoons and Sky Deck: Two restaurants in The Bayleaf Hotel serving local specialties and international dishes. 9 Spoons offers buffet breakfast daily and buffet launch on weekdays. Its interior features a contemporary vibe and there is also access to a roof deck to get a view of Intramuros and Manila City. Sky Deck is specifically an al-Fresco lounge offering a 360-degree unobstructed view of Manila.
Note that there are also several fast food and mainstream restaurants within Intramuros. These include local fast food joints such as Jollibee, Greenwich, and Chowking, as well as Max’s Restaurant and Starbucks Coffee.
For tourists who are into street food, the stretch of Muralla Street is sprawling with food carts, street vendors, and smaller eateries selling fish balls, grilled chicken and pork innards, instant stir-fried noodles, “kwek-kwek” or batter-covered hard-boiled quail eggs, a range of beverages, and banana cue.
3. Stay: Accommodations in the Walled City
Of course, tourists can opt to stay in one of the accommodations inside Intramuros. However, there only two hotels inside the Walled City: the White Knight Hotel and The Bayleaf Hotel.
White Knight Hotel is within the Plaza San Luis Complex at General Luna Street cor. Urdaneta, just across San Agustin Church. The establishment offers five times of rooms: Standard Room, Deluxe Room, Executive Twin Room, Executive Queen Room, and Suit.
Rooms feature a private toilet and bath with hot and cold water, cable television, access to wireless Internet, telephone, and non-allergic pillows and duvet sheets.
On the other hand, The Bayleaf Hotel is located along Muralla Street. It is a new hotel that offers accommodation and a range of services and businesses. Although located not in the best part of Intramuros since it is near colleges and universities, its selling point is the roof deck that gives its visitors a view of the surrounding area.
It also offers five types of rooms: Superior, Deluxe, Premier, Executive, and Suite. Each room has a private toilet and bath with hot and cold water, hair dryer, cable television, wireless Internet, minibar with coffee and tea maker, and safety deposit box. Photo Credit: Ian Jay Traquena/Adapted/CC 3.0