Manila's Walled City is a must-see destination for both local and foreign tourists. It exudes old world charm and gives one an insight into how its residents lived during the Spanish colonial period. Much of the old city was destroyed during World War II but the restored structures have been rebuilt to as close as the originals were.
A visit to Intramuros will not be complete without making stops at the following historical sites:
The 16th century fort was built to repel Chinese pirates and other invaders in the 16th century. The fort begins at the mouth of the Pasig River which faces Manila Bay.
Inside the compound amidst the barracks and dungeons can be found the Rizal Shrine where national hero Jose Rizal was detained prior to his execution at Bagumbayan Field. The shrine showcases Rizal's memorabilia including clothes, pictures and letters.
The San Agustin Church was the only structure left standing after World War II inside the walled city. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest stone church in the country. The San Agustin Museum is right next door and is a repository of religious relics and artifacts from all over the country. The Church is known for its detailed 3D style painted ceiling and is the best representation of Baroque church architecture in the country during the period.
Casa Manila is a turn of the century house complete with furniture and fixtures to match. Its interiors details how a typical family lived in Intramuros at its peak. Plaza San Luis is a five house cluster which showcases recreated houses in the provinces that gives one an idea of domestic life in the countryside during the Spanish colonial period where the town's activities centered on the local parish and the town plaza. There are also arts and crafts shops within the complex and a restaurant, Barbara's, which evokes nostalgic memories of the genteel lifestyle during the period.
This museum is a recent addition to the attractions of Intramuros and features how the Chinese or the Parian, as the Spaniards referred to them, lived during the period. The Chinese-Filipinos were relegated to their settlement called Binondo across the Pasig River. They were only allowed into the Walled City during business hours and had to leave at the end of the day. Binondo is the world's oldest Chinatown.
The city's premier cathedral is now on its eigth iteration having been destroyed in several earthquakes since its construction in 1581 and World War II when it was again destroyed by bombing and artillery fire.
Here's an extra tip: Performance artist Carlos Celdran's walking tour of Intramuros has become both famous and notorious given Celdran's run-ins with the Philippine Catholic Church. This is the ultimate walking tour because it's not only laden with facts about the stops it covers but trivia and insights about Philippine society during the period as well.
So, which places in Intramuros will you visit first during National Heroes Day?
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