I couldn't quite get the wall to stand out even with fill in flash because the sun was just getting in the way but I guess it'll have to do...and I can look at it and say that the new shines brighter than the old?...just a thought.
Across from the fort is Manila Cathedral. The original church on this site was built in 1571 of nipa (Philippine palm). Natural disasters and fire necessitated the construction of four additional cathedrals. The latest devastation took place during the bloody Battle of Manila at the end of WWII. Italian sculptors are responsible for the front statues and the bronze doors. Plaza Roma facing the cathedral is the companion to Piazzale Manila in Rome.
There are horse-drawn carriages which can take visitors through streets lined with Spanish-style houses, plazas, gardens, and churches. You can explore Intramuros by foot as I did originally as the sights are close to each other.
A more interesting place to visit would be Fort Santiago in Intramuros, where Rizal spent his last days, writing 'Mi Ultimo Adios' (My Last Farewell). Check out the travelogue for the full text of this beautiful poem.
Fort Santiago used to be the seat of the colonial powers of both Spain and the U.S. It was also a dreaded prison under the Spanish regime and the scene of countless military police atrocities during the Japanese occupation. You can still view the dungeons, where prisoners of war were held...it is said that the Japanese let the cells fill up with seawater to drown the hapless soldiers. The rest of Fort Santiago has been developed into a beautiful park.
The walled city was laid out on a grid, with 51 blocks within an uneven pentagon, its massive walls breached by seven gates. Only Spaniards and Spanish mestizos were allowed to live inside; each night, drawbridges across the moat were raised to ensure the colonists' security. The walls contained 12 churches, plus chapels, convents, monasteries, palaces for the governorgeneral and archbishop, government buildings, schools, a university, printing press, hospital, and barracks.
The elite dwelt in elegant houses with wroughtiron balconies and tiled roofs, though the narrow streets weren't paved until the late 19th century. Not much was left of this medieval European city in the tropics after WW II, but a restoration project by the Intramuros Administration is ongoing. The gates and walls have been restored, along with five period houses.
Monastery of Saint Agustin, Bishop of Hippo and Father of the Church (Monasterio de San Agustin, or the San Agustin Cathedral).
One of my favorite sights in the city is San Agustin, the oldest church in the Philippines. Built from 1587 to 1607, after plans approved by the Royal Audencia of Mexico and by a Royal Cedula, the church was designed by the Spaniard Juan Macias and replaced four other churches which stood on that spot. The original structure was later added to by the Municipal Architect of Manila, Don Luciano Oliver, who renovated the façade by adding to the height of the towers on either side of the church. One of these towers was damaged by an earthquake in 1863 and was torn down and never rebuilt. The present structure that we see now has survived the fires of 1574 and 1583, the earthquakes of 1645, 1754, 1852, 1863, 1880, 1968, and 1970, as well as bombardment during fighting in Manila in February 1945.
A two story structure built in the style of High Renaissance architecture, the façade bears Tuscan orders on the first level and Corinthian capitals on the second. Consistent with the style, a small circular window occupies the face of the third level. The interior's barrel vault nave is flanked by 12 chapels. A cross-vault dome rises above the tall faux-marble columns of the main altar. The ceiling and pilasters create a Baroque impression with their trompe l'oeil, done by Italian artists Caesare Dibella and Giovanni Alberoni.
Inside, the crystal chandeliers were brought from Paris 1879 and 1880, and the choir stalls were carved by the Augustinian monks themselves.
The front double door is heavily carved with designs of Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, who are framed by Philippine flora. Inside, a 1627 narra pulpit on a side wall is also elaborately carved. The gateway, from another era, was elaborately wrought in lacy ironwork in 1866 by jewelsmiths famous for their filigreed pieces called 'Manila goldwork.'
Beyond the first cloister is a second one which housed one of the prides of the monastery: a garden (popularly known as Father Blanco's garden, and a favorite site for wedding receptions) planted and maintained by the Augustinian botanist, Manuel Blanco, the author of Flora de Filipinas.
San Agustin now houses a museum of colonial art, religious treasures, reliquaries, a chapel with the remains of Legaspi, and a crypt which contains the remains of national heroes, villains, and the rest of Manila's original 400.
Intramuros is where you will find the spanish influence and legacy. Lots of buildings, churches, museums that are really interesting. Not to be missed are Fort Santiago, Manila Cathedral, Casa Manila, Agustin church and its museum. I am a sucker for this type of sightseeing. So I was in heaven.
Intramuros, the old Spanish area. It's one of the few places in Manila where remains of the Spanish times are preserved. It makes for an interesting trip back in time.
Spend some time wandering through the Cathedral in Intramuros. The cloister is stunning; the altar is very much reminiscent of its conterparts in Mexico and Latin America, which, of course, were built at about the same time by the very same people.
Besides La Luneta I found several statues devoted to South American heroes, such as José Martí, Simon Bolivar and José de San Martín.
They are very friendly, could speak Spanish and proudly told me that their uniforms are from the Spanish times.
See the picture with two of them.