The Walls of Intramuros

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Intramuros
City of Manila
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14.594138°N 120.970470°E

Intramuros is the oldest district and historic core of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Known as the Walled City, the original fortified city of Manila was the seat of the Spanish government during the Spanish colonial period. The walled part of Manila was called intramuros, which is Latin for “within the walls”; districts beyond the walls were referred as the extramuros of Manila, meaning “outside the walls”.

Construction of the defensive walls was started by the Spaniards in the late 16th century to protect the city from foreign invasions. The 0.67-square-kilometre (0.26 sq mi) walled city was originally located along the shores of the Manila Bay, south of the entrance to Pasig River. The reclamations during the early 20th-century obscured the walls from the bay. Guarding the old city is Fort Santiago, its citadel located at the mouth of the river.

Intramuros was heavily damaged during the battle to recapture the city from the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War. Reconstruction of the walls was started in 1951 when Intramuros was declared a National Historical Landmark, which is continued to this day by the Intramuros Administration (IA).

The planning for the city was commenced by Governor-General Santiago de Vera and was approved by King Philip II’s Royal Ordinance that was issued in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain. The succeeding governor-general, Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas brought with him from Spain the royal instructions to carry into effect the said decree. Construction of the walls began on 1590 and continued under many governor-generals until 1872. Since the construction was carried on during different periods and often far apart, the walls were not built according to any uniform plan.

Gov. Juan de Silva executed certain work on the fortifications in 1609 which was improved by Juan Niño de Tabora in 1626, and by Diego Fajardo Chacón in 1644. The erection of the San Diego Bastion (Baluarte de San Diego) was also completed that year. This bastion, shaped like an “ace of spades” is the southernmost point of the wall and the first of the large bastions added to the encircling walls, then of no great height nor of finished construction. It was the former site of Nuestra Señora de Guia, the very first stone fort of Manila.

The outline of the defensive wall of Intramuros is irregular in shape, following the contours of Manila Bay and the curvature of the Pasig River. The walls covered an area of 64 hectares (160 acres) of land, surrounded by 8 feet (2.4 m) thick stones and high walls that rise to 22 feet (6.7 m). An inner moat (foso) surrounds the perimeter of the wall and an outer moat (contrafoso) surrounds the walls that face the city.

Several bulwarks (baluarte), ravelins (ravellin) and redoubts (reductos) are also strategically located along its massive walls following the design of medieval fortifications. The seven bastions (clockwise, from Fort Santiago) are the Bastions of Tenerias, Aduana, San Gabriel, San Lorenzo, San Andres, San Diego, and Plano. The bastions were constructed at different periods of time, the reason for the differences in style. As mentioned above, the oldest bastion is the San Diego Bastion.

In Fort Santiago, there are bastions on each corner of the triangular fort. The Santa Barbara Bastion (Baluarte de Santa Bárbara) faces the bay and Pasig River; Baluarte de San Miguel, faces the bay; Medio Baluarte de San Francisco, Pasig River.

At the end of World War II, virtually all of the structures in Intramuros were destroyed, with only the damaged Church of San Agustin still standing.

In 1951, Intramuros was declared a historical monument and Fort Santiago, a national shrine with Republic Act 597, with the policy of restoring, reconstructing, and urban planning of Intramuros. Several laws and decrees also followed but results were deemed unsatisfactory due to limited funds.

In 1979, the Intramuros Administration was created by virtue of Presidential Decree no. 1616, signed by President Ferdinand Marcos on April 10 of that year. Since then, the Intramuros Administration (IA) has been slowly restoring the walls, the sub-features of the fortification, and the city within. The remaining five original gates have been restored or rebuilt: Isabel II Gate, Parian Gate, Real Gate, Santa Lucia Gate and the Postigo Gate. The four entrances made by the Americans by breaching the walls at four locations are now spanned by walkways thereby creating a connection, seamless in design and character to the original walls. – wikipedia.org

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Posted: February 16, 2013

Author: pamana360

Category: Forts & Watchtowers, National Historical Landmarks

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