A spacious borough of wide streets, leafy plazas and lovely colonial houses, the old walled city of Intramuros was the centrepiece of Spanish Manila. The Spanish replaced the original wooden fort with stone in 1590, and these walls stand much as they were 400 years ago. They’re still studded with bastions and pierced with gates(puertas) .
At the mouth of the Pasig River you’ll find Manila’s premier tourist attraction, Fort Santiago , fronted by a pretty lily pond and the Intramuros Visitors Center . During WWII the fort was used as a prisoner-of-war camp by the Japanese. Within the fort grounds you’ll find the Rizal Shrine in the building where national hero José Rizal was incarcerated as he awaited execution. It contains Rizal’s personal effects and an original copy of his last poem, ‘Mi Ultimo Adios’ (My Last Farewell).
The most interesting building to survive the Battle of Manila is the church and monastery of San Agustin . The interior is truly opulent and the ceiling, painted in 3-D relief, will make you question your vision. You must visit during a mass, or access it through the interesting San Agustin Museum .
Opposite the church, Casa Manila is a beautiful reproduction of a three-storey Spanish colonial mansion, filled with priceless antiques.