The 2-hour Intramuros Do-It-Yourself Tour | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Mar 13, 2013

The 2-hour Intramuros Do-It-Yourself Tour

If there's one thing I hate about traveling, it's jet lag! My sleeping pattern was totally messed up! Though I was really worn out, I still didn't get my desired hours of sleep on my first night in the Philippines. I was already wide awake at 4 AM, quite weird since that's 12 midnight in the UAE. I can't blame the change of time zone, so it's most probably because of my short naps in-flight, or maybe I was just too excited to wake up and see the sights of my beloved country!

Though I only had 4 hours of sleep, I was still determined to accomplish one of my vacation goals: to have a tour in Intramuros. I have been to the walled city when I was in High School, around 16 years ago. It was one of the places I greatly appreciated as a student. I can't remember the details though. The memory of my first visit is now a blur.

Intramuros Do-it-yourself tour

I did my homework prior our tour, so here's a little bit of history. :) Intramuros is the oldest district of Manila. It is a city inside a defensive wall built by the Spaniards in the late 16th century. The fortification protected the city from foreign invaders. It is also known as the Walled City, as "intramuros" is a Latin word which means "within the walls". It was damaged during World War II, was restored and became a National Historical Monument in 1951.

three friends in Intramuros
tourists in our own country

Palacio Gobernador in Intramuros
Palacio Del Gobernador
The building is the Governor's residence and office in the late 17th century.
Now, it houses the Intramuros administration and government offices.  
Manila Cathedral at Intramuros
Manila Cathedral

At 9AM, Ed and I, together with a friend, started our Intramuros tour at Plaza  Roma. While taking pictures of the magnificent Manila Cathedral, we were approached by kalesa drivers who offered tours at P300 per person. A kalesa is horse-driven carriage. Since I've heard about overpriced Kalesa tours, the constant advice "Never ride a kalesa" echoed in my head. We refused all offers until an Ilonggo pedicab driver came to us, presented a map and offered P50 per person tour. We hesitated at first, but he was so persistent and looked trust-worthy, so we accepted the cheap deal. A pedicab is a small pedal-operated vehicle, known as trishaw in other countries. 

kalesa at Intramuros
Kalesa at Plaza Roma
Manong Pedicab Driver at Intramuros
walking tour turned into pedicab tour

With the help of Manong Pedicab Driver (I forgot his name, sorry) and his Intramuros map, we roamed the streets of Intramuros. From Manila Cathedral, he pedaled his way to Kaisa Angelo King Heritage Center, popularly known as Bahay Tsinoy. Then, we walked to Casa Manila, an architecture which resembles a typical Spanish Mansion. Since we had a flight to catch in the afternoon, we didn't had the chance to enter the museums.

Bahay tsinoy at Intramuros
Bahay Tsinoy
Casa Manila at Intramuros
Casa Manila
hotel and restaurant in Casa Manila, Intramuros
There's a hotel, a restaurant and a coffee shop inside Casa Manila.
inside1 at Casa Manila at Intramurosinside 2 Casa Manila at Intramuros

Across Casa Manila is the San Agustin Church. Built in 1571, it is the oldest stone church in Philippines. It is now one of UNESCO's World Heritage sites.

San Agustin Church at Intramuros

unesco-heritage-site San Agustin Church at Intramuros

At 10 AM, I already felt the hot and humid Philippine weather. I realized that we made the right decision to ride a pedicab instead of having a walking tour. I felt I would give up halfway and not see the whole city if we didn't accept the offer. 

We continued our tour and reached the Philippine President's Gallery, a site where murals of past Presidents are displayed. After a short walk from the gallery, we saw Reducto De San Pedro, a structure outside the walls which used to be a storage room for cannonballs. It is now situated in the middle of a golf course.  

Philippines President's Gallery at Intramuros
Philippine President's Gallery
Reducto de San Pedro at Intramuros
Reducto de San Pedro

As the pedicab driver pedaled to Muralla street, we passed by San Diego Gardens, a lovely venue for weddings. We also had a short stop at Puerto Real, then went to Baluarte de Dilao.   

San Diego Gardens at Intramuros
San Diego gardens
The cells located near Puerta Real
inside cell Puerta Real at IntramurosPuerta Real at Intramuros

Baluarte de Dilao at Intramuros
Baluarte de Dilao
A defensive structure with 12 cannons

Aside from the heritage sites, schools were also built inside Intramuros. We passed by Mapua, Lyceum and Letran before heading to our last stop. We bid goodbye to our pedicab driver turned tourist guide at the entrance of Fort Santiago. He was courteous and very helpful, so apart from the P50 tour fee per person, we gave him an extra P50. 

Moving on, we bought entrance tickets at P75 per adult and gallivanted at Fort Santiago. It is considered to be the citadel of Intramuros. It is one of the oldest Hispanic stone fortresses and one of the most important historical sites in the Philippines 

Entrance Fee at Fort SAntiago

fountain at fort Santiago
beautiful fountain at Fort Santiago's park and picnic area

Who says visiting heritage sites can be boring? We had fun taking photos at the Fort's garden! There were murals and lifesize cardboard standees wearing Filipino costumes.  :) 

fun pictures at fort Santiago

ed as a soldier at fort Santiagomother and child at fort Santiago

ed and lady as oldies at fort Santiagofather ed at fort Santiago

After the comical moments, we entered main gate of Fort Santiago where an important, heart wrenching part of the Philippine history was waiting for us. From the gate, we walked to the Rizal Shrine. It is the barracks where Dr. Jose Rizal was confined during his trial. It is now a museum where the memorabilia of the Philippine National Hero is displayed.

gate at fort Santiago
Ed and I at the Fort Santiago's main gate
Rizal Philippine National Hero at fort Santiago
Statue of the Philippine National Hero in front Rizal Shrine
books written by Rizal at fort Santiago
books written by Dr. Jose Rizal
words by rizal at fort Santiago
words of the great hero
about Rizal at fort Santiago
Dr. Jose Rizal's clothes and his Ophthalmology instruments
last farewell by rizal at fort Santiago
"The Last Farewell" translated in different languages and in braille. 

After visiting Rizal Shrine, we walked to Falsabraga De Media Naranja. This part of Intramuros offers a great view of the Pasig River. Then, we proceeded to the Dungeons and the Memorial Cross.

falsabraga de Media at fort Santiago
Falsabraga De Media Naranja and the Pasig River
The dungeons at fort Santiago
The Dungeons
It's really heart breaking to see historical sites where fellow Filipinos were
tortured and killed. 
The Memorial Cross at fort Santiago
The Memorial Cross
It is also known as the Shrine of Freedom. This site is dedicated to 600 Filipinos who were found
dead inside a nearby  dungeon during World War II.

It was already an hour before noon when we reached the last, but not the least, historical site. We saw the prison cell where Dr. Jose P. Rizal started his last walk to martyrdom. His last steps were embedded on the pathway that leads to Bagumbayan, where we was executed. 

last-walk-to martyrdom of rizal at fort Santiago

Rizal Executed at fort Santiago

last steps of rizal at fort Santiago

My month-long vacation in the Philippines had a great start. It's nice to see the rich history of the country that will always be number one in my heart. In Intramuros, I saw beautiful heritage buildings and perfectly preserved mementos. Most importantly, I felt loved! The unrequited love of the country's National heroes and unsung heroes exudes in every corner. It made me more proud to be a Filipino.  

sightseeing is more fun in the philippines
Sightseeing is more fun in the Philippines!

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