If Siem Reap, Cambodia is to Angkor Wat Complex, then Metro Manila, Philippines is to Fort Santiago of Intramuros.  I may be quite ambitious on such proclamation as there are a hundredfold of considerations that needs to be made for both sites to be worthy of comparison.  Nonetheless, sans the UNESCO World Heritage title, the Fort Santiago of Metro Manila is exceptionally built amidst the political and religious turmoil which once beset the Filipino people, sharing the same foundation with that of the Angkor Wat complex.

The stories that forever thrived in the Fort Santiago complex is not a walk in the park.  Behind the facade and notion of just being another museum and a park to hold picnics and serve as rendezvous, think a hundred times and acquaint yourself of how life was at the Fort Santiago centuries ago.

Before the garden was well-manicured and maintained complemented by the water lilies, flowers and pigeons, here are some important facts that we ought to know so we would never look at Fort Santiago the same once again.

Several lives were lost in its prisons/garrisons during the Spanish Colonial Period and the World War II.

This is not to create an unpleasant feeling of fear but rather to impose respect and order when visiting Fort Santiago. We cannot deny the fact that several Filipino soldiers and civilians, and even conquerors of our country (Spaniards, Americans and Japanese) died within the said vicinity.

Creepy as it may sound but the souls of those who died at the Fort Santiago, even from far centuries ago may just be there watching each passer-by.  Thus, respect and discipline should be observed at all times.  You would not want to be speaking Spanish at an instant and claiming you came from another dimension of the world as you have been possessed by the unseen residents of the vicinity.

Our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was likewise imprisoned here before his execution in 1896, in fact, as a memorabilia, embedded unto the grounds in bronze are his footsteps representing his final walk from his cell to the site of his final execution.

During World War II, hundreds of American prisoners of war died of suffocation or hunger after being held in the dungeons of Fort Santiago.  After knowing this, I don't know if I should take more "selfie" photos in the dungeon or just pass by and pretend I knew nothing.

Fort Santiago was originally built not for the Filipinos but for the Spaniards.

The Fort Santiago is strategically located at the mouth of the Pasig River which served as the premier defense fortress of the Spanish Government during their rule in the country.  The fort was in fact named after Saint James the Great (Santiago in Spanish), who is the patron saint of Spain.  The image of Saint James the Great is carved on the facade of the front gate.

The Manila Galleon Trade to Acapulco, Mexico started at the Fort Santiago.

While wandering within the vicinity, we were lead to the portion of the wall facing the Pasig River and that we realized how the fort was strategically located for commerce and trade back then.  The skyline of Binondo, one of the center of commerce of Manila area is likewise visible from where we stood at.

If Angkor Wat of Cambodia is flocked by tourists on account of its sunrise, sunset in the Fort Santiago is likewise a sight to behold.

The portion of the Fort Santiago facing the Pasig river was left to our group on that one afternoon.  Contrary to other known destinations of the world where cultural heritage is being depicted, the Fort Santiago appeared crowd less with no camera shutter-clicks heard from various tourists.  It was a moment of solitude as we gaze the skies turned fiery red and bid farewell to another day that has passed.

The Fort Santiago of Intramuros, Manila is certainly one of the most important historical sites of the country. While our country has a painful past with our conquerors and that this site is a witness to all those, it is time we leave behind the past and be grateful of the present circumstances. 

This 16th century military defense structure indeed stands witness to the valor and heroism of the Filipino people that spanned for centuries.  The Intramuros Administration now manages and supervises the fort for everyone in the world to appreciate and be educated of how hard it was for our ancestors to regain freedom for the country.

You May Also Like


  1. Your blog is nice and I enjoyed a lot to read the detailed history about Fort Santiago of Intramuros as you described about the Filipinos. Images are also fine. You have provided enough information about this place for those who wants to visit there. These days I’m on the bus tours las vegas but after pulling off this tour, I’ll enjoy the trip of Fort Santiago of Intramuros.

  2. I like your blog, the way it's written is very nice, and the pictures are amazing too... keep it up!

  3. I was searching for facts about Fort Santiago to help me with my tour guiding spiel in school. Your blog really was a big help and the photos made a difference because as i was reading your blog with the pictures it's as if I was in Fort Santiago. It helped me visualize the place now and then.