Intramuros, Manila

Dubbed “Old Manila”, Intramuros is one of the few places in the Philippines that still retains the architecture from the Spanish colonization era. In Latin, Intramuros means “within the walls”. True to its name, Intramuros is surrounded by high brick walls and moats.

Kix on top of one of the walls

Take a walk through the city (and on the walls itself!) to soak up the country’s history and culture. Most of the buildings and estblishments have retained their 16th century look, and even the recent restaurants are designed to fit in with the 16th century theme. Another option is to go through the  city on a kalesa (a horse-driven carriage) commonly used by the Spaniards in the 18th century.

TOURIST TIP! A kalesa ride does not cost Php1,000! One of our Japanese friends went there and we were surprised when he told us he paid that much. Of course, for him, coming from a developed country, PHP1,000 or 2,000 Yen isn’t a lot–but here, it is. A kalesa ride should only cost you about PHP30 if you’re a local or around PHP100-300 for tourists. We’ve got to remember that not a lot of people ride the kalesas (they’d be lucky to get five people in a day especially if it isn’t tourist season) and the drivers need their living.

If you come visit during tourist season, you will see the establishment guards dressed up as gwardya sibil (civil guards).

Be sure to drop by the San Agustin Church, completed in 1607, making it the oldest church in the Philippines.The San Agustin Church has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and has been named by the Philippine Government as a National Historical Landmark. This church is one of the most popular venues for weddings.

San Agustin Museum

San Agustin also has a museum right next to the church. It is open from Sunday to Monday from 9:00 am – 12:00 nn and 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm. The admission fee is PHP100 for adults and PHP40 for children.

Remains of the famous Filipino painter, Juan Luna, can be found at the San Agustin Crypt. His most famous work, Spolarium, can be seen in the National Museum. I recommend going there as well–the Spolarium is truly a (HUGE!) masterpiece. There are also many other interesting things in the San Agustin crypt, such as a box for those assassinated by the Japanese during World War Two.

The Walled City is filled with lovely cobblestone streets, red brick walls and beautiful buildings and many things worth walking through and discovering. There are also plenty of restaurants around the area if you need to stop and eat. Filipino cuisine, Spanish cuisine and American fast food joints and coffee shops can be found in the area.

Intramuros itself has a wholly romantic feel—it’s as if you’ve been transported to another time. Whether it’s because of the horse drawn carriages, the infrastructure, this scenic, historical city is alive with romantic spirit.

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