Located at the southern bank of Pasig River and just north of Rizal Park, Intramuros is the oldest district in the city of Manila. It was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century and as such, you can see Spanish architecture and influences there.
In fact, the word Intramuros means 'within the walls' in Spanish. This fits the description of Intramuros well as it is surrounded by high thick walls and moats.
I took a taxi from Lotus Garden Hotel where I stayed to Intramuros. I should have walked instead as it was actually not very far from my hotel as you can see from the map below. (hotel is marked 'A')
The taxi driver drove past Rizal Park on Roxas Boulevard and entered Intramuros from Bonifacio Drive. I don't know why but I just love the name of the roads in Manila!
There were a lot of places of interests to visit inside the walled city of Intramuros. But the driver stopped me right in front of the Manila Cathedral.
Map Of Intramuros
Can you spot the Manila Cathedral from the map above? (Please click on the map for enlarged version)
It is located not very far from the entrance into Intramuros (if you are going in from Bonifacio Drive) and just opposite Plaza Roma.
I decided to make the Manila Cathedral as the starting point of my tour of Intramuros.
The main facade of the cathedral is graced by statues of famous saints sculpted in Roman travertine stone.
Also known as the Cathedral-Basilica of The Immaculate Conception, the Manila Cathedral is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila.
I like the tympanum designs above the main door.
Latin inscriptions on the tympanum
Amazingly, this cathedral has been damaged and destroyed several times by typhoon, fire, earthquakes and World War II since the original cathedral was built in 1581. The present structure, which is the sixth, was completed in 1958 and was consecrated as a minor basilica in 1981.
Historical marker on the facade of Manila Cathedral
However, according to the Manila Cathedral's official website, the present cathedral is actually the eighth. Now I am confused! If it is true that this is the eighth cathedral, then that means the marker placed on the facade is giving the wrong information!
Entering the cathedral, I was immediately taken in by the interior of the central nave.
I took a few shots of the walls and ceilings.
Can you see the confession box in the picture below?
Here's a close up shot of the confession box. Have you been inside one?
Walking towards the front passing the rows and rows of benches, I reached the main altar.
The Manila Cathedral had hosted the funerals of two former Presidents of the Philippines, namely Carlos P. Garcia, the 8th President of the Philippines in 1961 and Corazon Aquino, the 11th President of the Philippines (and the mother of the current Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III) in 2009.
The cathedral also has a crypt below the main altar that houses the remains of past Archbishops of Manila.
View of the ceiling above the altar
Along the right and left naves are several chapels which I visited. These are some of the photos I took.
Saint Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei
Our Lady Or Antipolo
Along the right lateral nave of the cathedral, somewhere in the first or second chapel, you can find lots of information about the cathedral and also learn some of the words and terms used by Catholics that most non-Christians are not familiar with.
There is a chapel that provides information on the history of pipe organ and how it works.
The mechanism of the pipe organ
There is this Saint Peter statue along the right nave near to the altar.
The Chapel of St Peter occasionally serves as a mortuary, where bodies of the dead lie in state until burial.
I came across this cross with intricate carvings along the left nave of the cathedral.
A magnified image of Christ on the cross
I also saw interesting artistic reliefs on the main door or portal of the cathedral. There are eight bronze panels on the main portal.
Four bronze panels on one door
These are among some of the historical depictions carved onto the bronze panels.
Bishop Diego Vasquez de Mercado consecrating the rebuilt cathedral in 1614
Archbishop Miguel de Poblete collecting offerings for the reconstruction of the cathedral
Destruction brought about by the 1945 war
If you notice in some of the photos above, there are beautiful stained glass windows in most of the chapels. These stained glass windows give pictorial history of Christianity. Here are some that I captured on camera.
Mary and Joseph
Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino Saint
The Martyrdom of St. Lorenzo Ruiz
I spent almost an hour inside the Manila Cathedral. It was an interesting one hour for me being a non Catholic.
It was time to move on to the next place of interest in Intramuros.
As I walked out of the Manila Cathedral, I was wondering if I should get myself a pedicab driver or maybe even a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage). Or perhaps I should just walk since I really like walking.
Well, you will know what I did next in my next post, so stay tuned!
Coming Up Next : Fort Santiago Of Intramuros