Walking on the Fortress Walls of Intramuros in Manila: A Photographic Essay

fter passing Rizal Park while walking north on Roxas Boulevard — which was choked with traffic — I turned right at the next corner onto Padre Burgos Avenue; and then I headed north at the next intersection on Palacio Street.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Palacio Street then becomes General Luna Street; and not long after that, I see the bridge with the faded sign indicating that I was about to enter Intramuros — also known as the walled city — which is the oldest district and historic core of Manila.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The entrance to Intramuros on General Luna Street. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Just beyond the overpass, I look to the right on Muralla Street; and I see a long ramp indicating the entrance to the top of the wall which surrounded Intramuros.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Muralla Street. Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I head on up the old stone ramp, which had moss covering portions of the stone guard rail on one side and a weathered worn wall of stacked stones on the other.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

As soon as I reached the top of the ramp, I instantly realized that the wall offered a perspective of Manila not seen on the ground. I intend to show photographs of life in Manila as seen from the wall in a future article.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Interesting architectural surprises await visitors at what seem to be around every corner of the wall.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

The wall towards San Diego Gardens was closed as indicated by a sign with the words NO ENTRY crudely scrawled on it, hanging by a haphazard array of cables tied nonsensically.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Like an alien life form, the moss and weeds slowly reclaim the neglected marvel whose construction began in the late 1500s.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I can almost imagine the fighting and the wars that these defensive walls have seen — in some cases, heavily damaged by the impact of artillery. Reconstruction of the walls back in the 1950s was necessary to preserve what was left of what became a National Historic Monument…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

…yet the walls continue to be covered.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

There were parts of the wall where the stone floor was in reasonably good shape — albeit uneven and bumpy…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

…while the floor of other parts of the wall were well worn, its surface concave from years of unforgiving weather and trampling by the countless feet of humans. The stagnant water from a past rain of a now-distant storm was cradled and held in place by the mortar between the stones. The avoidance of tripping on the mortar edges became both a sport and a preventative measure from falling on to the hard and uneven surface.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Overlooking a narrow crevice could be paramount to squandering an opportunity to explore a unique part of the wall…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

…or a peek at the architecture and everyday life of the citizens of Manila.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Hundreds of old Spanish roof tiles lay in piles, broken and faded like the heart of a dejected and lonely person, neglected and forgotten.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Despite the condition of the wall, it definitely felt solid and sturdy due to the fact that it is eight feet thick of stone…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

…and it was tough to walk this part of the wall without stumbling on the uneven stone floor while avoiding puddles which had not yet evaporated from the heat of the afternoon.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Below is a good shot of what appears to be a good shot.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I almost could hear the explosion of cannons in a valiant attempt to defend Manila…

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

…fort what it is worth.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

It is interesting to see life milling about beyond the wall below; but there are several different access points to the wall.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Some parts of the wall are shaded by the nearby flora; while other parts are completely exposed to the hot sun — hence, the use of umbrellas by some of the people of Manila.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Sometimes you have to watch out for hazards while walking on the wall — such as the very low hanging wires in the photograph shown below.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Walking along the top of the wall which surrounds the quarter square mile of Intramuros while exploring and getting your exercise is recommended by me — it will not cost you a single Philippine peso to do so — and you should not visit Manila without doing so yourself.

All photographs ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Walking on the Fortress Walls of Intramuros in Manila: A Photographic Essay”

  1. Glenn says:

    Intramuros is a great place to explore. The interior has a lot of history lessons and the site of the Japanese atrocities is still fenced off and preserved. I like that they have converted what used to be a moat into a golf course.

  2. Tony A. says:

    If you wanna do this in a more fun way, join Carlos Celdran’s walking tour of Intramuros (the walled city).
    Definitely worth it.
    http://itsmorefuninthephilippines.com/intramuros-walking-tour/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Celdran

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