It’s been a year since I last visited Intramuros, it’s been a year since I last walked its streets, smelled the familiar smells, and entered its classic buildings. It wasn’t my intention to stay away from the walled city, in fact I adore Intramuros and the whole inspiration of this blog is in the city. Thankfully, I am happy that I finally visited the walled city last Tuesday and explored the historic quarter with a new batch of students. Alongside my colleagues, we partnered to give an exciting tour based on what we know so far.
*for the purpose of safety, security, and confidentiality I did not include any of my students’ faces in this post.
Our tour started with my spiel on pueblos and the importance of Plaza Roma. There’s really nothing much to see, except you’re just surrounded by grand structures. A statue of a Spanish king, Charles, stares magnificently at all who gaze upon him. Surrounding happy Charles are wonderful classical buildings, the Palacio del Gobernador, the Ayuntamiento, and the grand Manila Cathedral.
While in Plaza Roma, why not take a visit to Manila Cathedral. After years of renovation, the seat of the archdiocese of Manila is finally open. Enjoy a moment of silence in this grand old cathedral, gaze at the domed ceiling, the long aisle, and maybe take a time in quiet reflection.
Next stop, the San Agustin Church and Museum, a 400 year old church located just behind Manila Cathedral and beside my favorite Intramuros souvenir shop. With tickets costing around Php 80-100, San Agustin’s museum is a great way to learn about the life of Spanish Friars and the Augustinians themselves. Halls are bedecked with grand oil paintings, alcoves have been converted to house mini exhibits housing the riches of the church throughout its 400 year old existence. For bibliophiles, stop by the church’s grand library to kindle your love for reading and marvel at tomes as old as your family.
It isn’t enough that you get to see the life of Spanish friars, why not stop by Casa Manila across San Agustin to relive the life of a wealthy Spaniard or mestizo. With two floors of beautiful hardwood see living rooms, receiving rooms, grand ballrooms, and other old-school amenities during a time when electricity or modern comforts were non-existent. By the way, turn off your cameras since photographs are not allowed in the house.
If Intramuros is known for its walls then it’s just logical that any trip should have a stop walking around the walls like a proud conquistador. Marvel at the landscape and the skyscrapers dotting the horizon. As you walk around the walls, play with the cannons or use one of the watch towers to look at the golf course. If playing isn’t your thing, just lounge under the trees or watch the sun slowly set as students turn the walls into simple date places and review spots.
While in Intramuros, drop by some other unique places like