Dropping by Intramuros for the first time? Check out the first part of our trip to give yourself a more in-depth 16th century walkthrough. For returning tourists, we highly recommended that you take the walking tour, so you can control your time and take prettier instagrammable shots. These are mostly museums, so you may want to take a while in each stop to experience the 16th Century Manila better.
First Stop: Destileria Limtuaco Museum
Fun fact first! Did you know that Destileria Limtuaco’s flagship products were sioktong and White Castle Whisky before Manille Liqueur de Calamansi became famous? This ancient winery overcame crises, produced numerous products, and stood the test of time. Just recently, the country’s oldest distillery finally launched its museum to the public.
Built within a bahay na bato (stone house), former CEO Julius Limpe purchased Destileria Limtuaco’s in 1979. Afterwards, an excellent idea of building a museum sprung up, wherein his daughter, current Destileria Limtuaco President Olivia-Limpe Aw, brought the vision to life after almost 40 years
From fermentation to aging to bottling, you can walk through the traditional art of making rum and whiskey. Destileria Limtuaco Museum’s rum-making process includes a distillatory and a small cistern of fermenting molasses. You’re free to open a jar and sniff to experience what fermented molasses smell like! Their whisky, on the other hand, displays a tank of fermenting corn. According to the son of Olivia Limpe-Aw, Business Development Manager Aaron Limpe-Aw expounds that they’re trying out various flavors by blending their whisky from scratch, contrary to the usual import-and- blend system. To support local laborers from Isabela, they even use 100% yellow corn.
Address: 482 San Juan de Letran Street, Intramuros, ManilaRead more
Second Stop: Manila Cathedral
Founded in 1571, Manila Cathedral (a.k.a. Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica) has been playing a great part in the modern Philippine history, making it worth visiting. Just in 2015, Pope Francis held a Mass with thousands of priests, bishops, consecrated persons – the Manila Cathedral has been a known venue for Papal Visits as early as the 1970s when Pope John Paul came to the Philippines.
Although what now stands on site is the recovered structure, Manila Cathedral’s replica of the old church remains picturesque and more stunning than ever. Now sculpted in Roman travertine stone, the well-known saints in the previous cathedral simply used to be carved molave wood. Ever since its renovation, famous celebrities and personalities have married at the Manila Cathedral.
Address: Sto. Tomas Street, Intramuros, ManilaRead more
MNLgo tip: The Manila Cathedral is right next to Plaza de Roma (park) together with the reconstructed historical government buildings Palacio del Gobernador and the Ayuntamiento de Manila, so a trip to the Manila Cathedral is a must as you get to enjoy these three landmarks all facing the Plaza de Roma at once.
Third Stop: Fr. George J. Willmann, SJ Museum
Being known as a country nurtured by Roman Catholic beliefs, the Philippines is filled with museums about the church and its religious influencers. Give yourself a basic background on what shaped the Filipino religious culture and the journey to beatification and sainthood at the Fr. George J. Willmann, SJ Museum. It is a small room that shows the process of sainthood through texts and photos. Fr. Willmann was an American Jesuit priest who lived in the Philippines and eventually became a Filipino Citizen. He is the father of the Knights of Columbus and is still highly revered by the organization’s members until today.
Address: General Luna corner Santa Potenciana Streets, Intramuros, ManilaRead more
Fourth Stop: National Commission for Culture and the Arts Gallery
Filipinos are natural born artists and it would be a missed opportunity to hide these special talents from the world. At the heart of Intramuros’ base of operations, the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) responds to the increasing demands of a growing contemporary art scene in the country by relaunching the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Gallery, giving more value to the Filipino Visual Arts Community.
The NCCA Gallery features The Open Gallery and the Glass Gallery, allowing young and upcoming artists to showcase their artworks and make a name for themselves. Art lovers will definitely enjoy dropping by every now and then, especially that the National Commission for Culture and Arts Gallery changes exhibits almost every month to give chances to hundreds and thousands of deserving artists in the country.
Address: 633 Gen Luna St. Intramuros, ManilaRead more
Fifth Stop: Bagumbayan Light & Sound Museum
After several hours exploring under the scorching heat, give yourself a cool “break” at the air-conditioned Bagumbayan Light & Sound Museum. Whether you’re a foreign or local tourist, you will be refreshed and educated about a part of the Philippine History in this 1,800-sqm museum, the largest and most modern within Intramuros.
Relatively new compared to the other establishments, the Bagumbayan Light & Sound Museum depicts the major historical events in the Philippines from pre-colonial period as early as the year 900 up to the life and death of the Philippines’ National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal in 1896.
As the name gives it away, the light and sound will lead you as you walk around the museum. The life-size wax dolls and full visual & sound effects narrate the important events in chronological order. You will see Lapu-Lapu, the Spanish colonization, the Parisian life, and many others. This is basically a year’s equivalent of Philippine History class summarized in an hour.
Make sure to bring your family and friends with you as the exhibit will only start with least 10 persons at the venue.
Address: Sta. Lucia Street, Intramuros, ManilaRead more
Sixth and Final Stop: Baluarte de San Diego
At the southern most part Intramuros’ walls is Baluarte de San Diego’s reminiscent ruins that was used to be a circular fort called Nuestra Señora de Guia (Our lady of Guidance). Constructed in the late 16th century, its rocky features defended Intramuros from invasion.
Baluarte de San Diego brings historical landmarks in Manila back to life and its center structure with concentric circular stone walls will transport you back to the 16th Century with its unique structure.
Address: Sta. Lucia Street, Intramuros, ManilaRead more
Intramuros is a big walled city worth returning to – one or two trips are never enough and you’ll definitely find something new to learn and discover – don’t forget to check out our first timer’s guide to Intramuros as there are more interesting places not mentioned here. By the way, don’t forget to bring an umbrella and lots of water because you’ll never know when the sun strikes in tropical Manila. Enjoy your trip to the past!