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Ever since the walled city was founded in 1571, when people mentioned “Intramuros”, they also meant Intramuros, a historic walled city nestled in the heart of Manila, Philippines, has stood as a testament to the country’s colorful past for centuries. From its humble beginnings as a settlement to its transformation into a bustling center of Spanish colonial power, The has witnessed countless chapters of Philippine history.  “Intramuros” literally means “inside the wall”. It was the center of Spanish rule in the islands.

The Birth of Intramuros

Intramuros traces its roots back to the year 1571 when Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established it as the capital of the Spanish East Indies. Its strategic location on the southern bank of the Pasig River made it an ideal site for trade and defense. Over time, the place evolved into a vibrant cityscape, complete with imposing stone walls, majestic churches, and grand residences.

The Spanish Colonial Era

During the Spanish colonial era, the whole walled city served as the political, religious, and economic hub of the Philippines. Magnificent buildings and churches, like the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church, lined the city’s streets, standing today as enduring symbols of Spanish influence. Intramuros flourished as a center of culture, education, and commerce, attracting merchants, scholars, and artists from around the world.

In my younger days, we always drove from our old house in Malabon to “Manila” and hear mass at the “Manila Cathedral“. During those younger years, Intramuros was always part of grade school excursions as it was one of the only well-known tourist attractions. I actually studied nursery inside those walls.

Destruction and Resilience

Tragedy struck in 1945 during the Battle of Manila in World War II, leaving the city in ruins. Much of its architectural splendor was reduced to rubble, and countless lives were lost. However, the spirit of the walled-city endured. They made efforts to restore and preserve its historic structures, resulting in its designation as a National Historical Landmark and the establishment of the Intramuros Administration.

Preserving the Legacy

Since its restoration, Intramuros has become a living museum, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the grandeur of the past. The cobblestone streets, colonial-era architecture, and well-preserved landmarks serve as a vivid reminder of the city’s historical significance. Today, it s a popular tourist destination, offering guided tours, museums, and cultural events that showcase the rich heritage and diverse stories of the Philippines.

During the years when Mrs. Imelda Marcos was governor of Manila (or Metro Manila), the whole city was slowly restored and certain building restrictions were implemented. Some schools and establishments within the walls had to follow.

Intramuros stands as a resilient testament to the enduring spirit of the Filipino people and their history. Intramuros, a Spanish colonial outpost, now thrives as a cultural center, showcasing Philippine history to visitors. Its walls hold stories of generations past, inviting exploration and appreciation.

View and visit all other official Intramuros videos at Intramuros Administration Youtube Channel

Here is a direct link to the Intramuros Virtual Tours playlist.


Old & New 4-Hour City Tour Book Now
Filipino Historic Walking Tour in Intramuros Book Now

Address5/F Palacio del Gobernador, cor. Gen. Luna & A. Soriano Sts.
Intramuros, Manila
Phone(63-2) 8527 3155
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