Manila’s Intramuros: A City Within Walls– A brief historic background

In some ancient cities in the world, high walls were created to provide protection for their territories and for their people. Such idea was also incorporated by the Spaniards– the longest colonizers of the Philippines–and made a city which is kept within a wall– This creation is called Intramuros.

Map of Intramuros from Wikipedia (Source:

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi is one of the persons who initiated the transfer of the Philippines’ capital from Cebu to Manila. As such, he created a city which is strategically located near the Pasig River– which is the only ingress and egress of water from the lake called Laguna de Bai—Pasig River had also became the passage of various merchants and even military intelligence even before the Spaniards’ 333 years period of colonization since there are tribes ruled by Rajah’s that are already settling near what we call as Intramuros.

From that city, Intramuros which literally translate as a city within a wall. Intra means “within” while muros means “city/cities” became the capital of trade, industry, religion and even military. More importantly it became the seat of the colonial government.

Santa Lucia Gate in Intramuros: One of the entrances. Source (Wikipedia:

However, most of the people who live within its walls are the Spaniards themselves and only a minuscule number of Filipinos who were rich and famous during that time are allowed entry. Filipinos are considered 2nd or even 3rd class citizens by the Spaniards, they see Filipinos as savages, so as much as possible they wanted these “low class” people to be outside the city walls, they even lock the walls at night for security– from this discrimination that Filipinos rebelled against them… however, it took the Filipinos 3 centuries before they got tired of the discriminatory character that the Spaniards showed them.

Some Info about Jose Rizal:

Only until the National hero Jose Rizal wrote various novels that definitely strikes down the blatant abuse of the Spaniards to the Filipinos— abuses such as rape of women, discrimination, torture– as well as its utter disregard of the problems in the society during that time–especially corruption and poverty. These subversive novels became the lifeblood of rebels, it became the inspiration for an upcoming massive rebellion. However, these rebellion did not become successful or grand/national in scale until Jose Rizal was executed by the Spaniards– and after that time, the long patience of all Filipinos were shattered into pieces; and it started the nationwide rebellion which made the Spaniards had a difficult time pacifying…


Intramuros suffered a lot of fires and bombings throughout history. It became a place where a lot of bloodshed happened– from Filipino rebellions during the Spanish era, Philippine American liberation to World War II…

Destruction of Intramuros during WWII. Source:

However, from all this things that happened, most of its original walls stood ground–and remains of some of the destroyed walls and structures are still there for you to see…

And what is interesting is that some of the structures therein are still intact– the cobbled streets and a Church that lived longer than all of us– a 16th Century Church which survived all of the things that happened during the past— even the bombings during the World War II– this Church is called San Agustin Church– A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some of the preserved houses in Intramuros/ newly painted/ look at the cobbled streets

Within Intramuros there are a lot of places of interest, Fort Santiago, Baluarte de San Diego, San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral and the old residence of the Governor-general (President) during the Spanish era–which is now the head office of Land Bank of the Philippines.

Preserved houses which is now a school

Governor General's residence

How to Get Here?

1. Ride LRT-1 and get off Central Station.

2. Walk towards the City Hall and you will see the entrance/gate to Intramuros


1. Ride a taxi! taxi is cheap in the Philippines..

Entrance Fee: No entrance fee in Intramuros itself except museums and Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago — P75.00 for adults, P50-students and children

San Agustin Church Museum — P100.00 for adults



8 thoughts on “Manila’s Intramuros: A City Within Walls– A brief historic background”

  1. That was a great post – and I definitely learned something. I’d never really understood that the Phillipines had been a Spanish colony – mainly because overseas the Filipinos I meet are so clearly influenced by American culture, but I guess the strict Catholicism of the nation had to come from somewhere and that’s not likely to have been the US. 🙂

  2. medyo disappointed ako when i found out na malaking part pala talaga ng intramuros got damaged during the war.andami pala sa mga nakikita ko ay replica na lang but i’m glad that san agustin church is well preserved.unesco world heritage site kasi sya.

    1. yeah, I got disappointed too when I learned that most of the places were just restored. But, at least the government is doing something about its restoration, since it is still good to see places that reminds you of the past. Yup, Ganda ng San Agustin, It is such a beautiful and old church, and it deserves to be part of the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.

  3. That old Intramuros map is my desktop wallpaper. 😉 Just a clarification: the cobblestones on General Luna Street is just a recent creation to beautify Intramuros. In fact, no one is really sure which streets of Intramuros had cobblestones, or if there were any at all. What’s certain was that in the residential areas of the walled city, cobblestones would have been unbearable because they would have caused a lot of noise when they came in contact with horses’s hooves.

    1. Really?? I didn’t know about that 😦 It’s just sad knowing that it was just restored. I thought it was the original since the San Agustin Church was not affected by the bombing during the WWII. It’s just sad to know the truth. Anyway thank you very much for sharing this information. I highly appreciate it! 🙂

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