Intramuros: Visiting The 'City Within City'

Intramuros is a walled city within metro Manila, the name itself meaning "within the walls". In a previous life under the Spanish empire, it was a defensive fort that protected Manila against invasions. Today, much of the immediate surrounding area has become a mini golf course of sorts, which contrasts with the interior that has kept most of its historic landmarks, heavily influenced by its colonial roots of the past.

Photo showing how the entrance to Intramuros looks like
Entrance to Intramuros

If you are in Metro Manila and only have a short time there, Intramuros is probably the only nearby place to sight-see. Getting there is actually quite straight forward. It is reachable by the Manila train network, nearest to "United Nations" station on the LRT-1 line. 

Tips: If you are like me and have to start your journey along the MRT-3 line, be forewarned that the two lines are not connected and you have to buy separate tickets for each line:

  • Get off at "Taft Avenue" station on MRT-3.
  • Once you exit the train station gantry (where you tap your card), turn to the right. You should see signboards saying "EDSA LRT-1".
  • Those signs will take you to a flight of steps down. If you see an entrance to a small shopping mall of sorts, you are on the right track.
  • A short distance into the mall, you should come to an elevator. There should be signboards pointing towards the LRT. Go up one floor, I recall seeing Chowking and Jolliebee towards the exit.
  • Continue the path and you should reach the security check for EDSA station, pass through the guard and you should see the ticketing machine on the right.
  • Choose your destination as "United Nations" and make the purchase.
  • Board the train, get off at "United Nations" station and follow the map below.

Tips: Rizal Park is nearby Intramuros and on the way from the train station. If you start the day early and is considering to make stop there, you can get a map of the area from the Information Centre in the park. However, do also note that Intramuros itself is already a lot of walking, so take care not to over stretch yourself and keep hydrated.

The map below shows the route that I took from the "United Nations" station to the various landmarks in Intramuros. Along the way, when you pass by Rizal Park, you may notice many locals there, especially on weekends:

  • A: United Nations Station
  • B: Intramuros Entrance
  • C: Replica Cannon (The entrance is actually very small and insignificant looking, easily missed if you are not looking out for it)
  • D: Baluarte de San Diego Entrance (Fee: PHP75)
  • E: Puerta de Santa Lucia
  • F: Fort Santiago Entrance (Fee: PHP75) and front area (Plaza Moriones)
  • G: Fort Santiago (after the moat) and Plaza de Armas
  • H: Plaza Roma (small park in front of the cathedral)
  • I: Roman Catholic Cathedral of Manila (Google Maps has a very long name for the place)
  • J: The path from I to J gives a glimpse of the living quarters and food stores of the locals, which would be an interesting path to end the trip back at the entrance

Tips: There is a one day pass for PHP310 which gives you access to 5 areas including Baluarte de San Diego and Fort Santiago, as well as Bahay Tsinoy, Casa Manila and Destileria Limtuaco Museum. Whether it is worthwhile depends on essentially how much you are into museums. The last three are museums, and since I am not a very Museum person, it was more worthwhile for me to just pay the entrance for the first two spots. I think the nearest availability from the entrance should be at Baluarte de San Diego so if you intend to purchase, do it before going into Baluarte de San Diego.

My visit to Intramuros was prompted by a photo that I saw of the circular structure in  Baluarte de San Diego. To be frank, I was a little underwhelmed having to pay PHP75 because Baluarte de San Diego is really just a small location with the circular structure as the main attraction. For the same price, Fort Santiago provided more attractions (defense structures, a museum paying tribute to the national hero Jose Rizal) to see. 

Photo showing the circular wall in Baluarte de San Diego
Baluarte de San Diego - This circular wall is really what you are paying the PHP75 for

Photo showing Plaza Moriones after paying entrance fee
You will be at Plaza Moriones immediately after paying the entrance fee to Fort Santiago

Photo showing Ruins of the American Barracks in Intramuros
Ruins of the American Barracks... It's really just walls now

Photo showing the bridge to Fort Santiago
Bridge to the Gate and Inner Areas of Fort Santiago

Photo showing Plaza de Armas of Fort Santiago in Intramuros
Plaza de Armas, the inner sanctum of Fort Santiago welcomes you

The other main attraction that I definitely recommend dropping by is the Roman Catholic Cathedral. The place is free access and you can actually go in to visit or do your prayers. The interior has a solemn atmosphere and the sunlight shining on the coloured window panes gives it an extra mystique which my camera could not do justice, so I had to settle for imprinting it in my mind. Reading its history that is printed outside, I cannot help but be in awe and respect at its symbol of strength. Despite all the destructive forces throughout its history, the locals would rebuilt it again.

Photo showing the Roman Catholic Cathedral
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Manila

Photo showing the text displayed outside the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Intramuros
The description of the church is one of resiliency and strength in the face of adversity
And some of the other locations that I have indicated in the Google Maps above:

Photo showing a replica cannon in Intramuros
Cannon Replica (I am assuming it is not real :)

Photo of the Baluartillo de San Jose
The signboard says "Baluartillo de San Jose" although Google Map has it listed as "Reducto de San Pedro"

Photo showing the Puerta de Santa Lucia gate
Puerta de San Lucia

Overall, I think Intramuros would be a good place for a half day visit because of its historical significance, and the considerable accessibility. If you are into museums, then definitely get the one day pass that is available.


  1. I used your guide to Intramuros today. Thanks a lot! It really helps.