Exploring the historic streets of Intramuros is a must when visiting Manila. During the Spanish colonial days in the Philippines, which started in the mid-1500s and lasted until the 1890s, Intramuros developed into the most exclusive district in Manila. High walls protected upscale homes, government buildings, churches, schools, and plazas. The district of Intramuros in Manila sits on the banks of the Pasig River, which was no doubt a strategic move by the Spanish, and moats surrounded it during the city's glory days. During its heyday, Intramuros Philippines was a mighty European outpost that enjoyed quite a reputation in Asia.
Not long after Miguel Lopez de Legazpi took control of the Manila area in the 1570s, he ordered that a defense fortress be built at Intramuros. Little remains of the original Fort Santiago, as it was heavily damaged during WWII. Unfortunately, Intramuros Philippines was all but completely laid to waste during WWII's Battle of Manila. Some historical relics remain, however, and visitors can still get a sense of local history when wandering the Spanish-named streets. Much of the main entrance of Fort Santiago remained intact after WWII, and this partly restored structure, which stands 40 feet tall, is admirable.
Another historical structure of particular interest in Intramuros Philippines is San Agustin Church. No other church in the country is older than the San Agustin Church, which was completed in 1606. This marvelous Baroque edifice is only one of four churches in the Philippines that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ornate interior begs visitors to step inside, and the admission prices also include entrance into a terrific museum. The San Agustin Museum, like the church itself, is full of amazing historical relics.
The huge walls that were built up around Intramuros in Manila are still partly intact, and visitors can wander along the almost two-mile-long rampart. This is understandably one of the top things to do in Intramuros. Maps are available at the main entrance, and they can help visitors make sense of the sights, such as the Manila Cathedral. Although this cathedral had to be completely rebuilt in 1951, it boasts a mostly Romanesque design and looks much older than it actually is. It is worth noting that the plaza on which the Manila Cathedral sits used to be a bullring.
For those who are interested in Philippines history, staying at one of the Manila hotels that is close to Intramuros is a good idea. This district is of considerable historical importance, and it is enjoyable to explore. A visit to Intramuros in Manila doesn't have to be long to leave an impression on the visitor. After exploring the district for a few hours, relaxing in Rizal Park can be a rewarding endeavor. This park is a relaxing retreat that can satisfy any number of recreational pursuits, and it is a fine place to enjoy a picnic.