Why you should visit Intramuros

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Walking along a stone road, I found myself in awe for seeing something for the first time that was just a few kilometers away from where I usually am. Spanish colonial architecture, grand churches with distinct baroque features, and kalesas plying the old streets with tourists from different nations. Walking further, I found myself in a charming public space with a fountain at its center. I was in Intramuros, one of the cities that intrigued me the most while I grew up in Metro Manila.

Plaza Roma

My curiosity for Intramuros began when I realized I can work anywhere with my current remote job. Out of all the places one can work, I thought of Intramuros, mainly because of its charm and mystery.

Eventually, I found myself in Barbara’s Cafe — my introduction to what would become a pleasant, personal affair with the walled city of Metro Manila.

Barbara’s Cafe
La Cathedral Cafe
Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant

I went to cafes, ate at restaurants, and visited old sites, both free and those with a fee. One thing I realized is that the Intramuros Administration is doing a ton of work to make Intramuros the way it is now. If you’re thinking of visiting the walled city, now would be the perfect time and here’s why.

Rich in history

This should go without saying, but, nonetheless, there is just so much history in the walled city for one to simply pass it by. When you look at the map of Metro Manila, Intramuros is this one, fascinating segment that just begs one to come and visit it.

Manila Cathderal

If you are thinking of whether the place is overrated or not, I would suggest you instead look into the history. While Intramuros is becoming more and more popular as tourists, both foreign and local, start to flock in, as well as the recent re-opening of the dungeons in Fort Santiago, I would strongly recommend that you still go for the purpose that there will be a lot of things to learn.

Inside Fort Santiago you can find the remains of what used to be a performance theater

One fun fact is that Intramuros was not initially called Intramuros. Before, it was, essentially, Manila. After the war, and when Manila began to expand, was the time it was called ‘Intramuros’ to refer to it as the ‘walled city’ or in Latin, ‘within the walls.’ So you could just imagine Manila back then being this tiny, congested space, guarded by strong, sturdy walls and filled with Spanish colonial architecture.

Baluarte de San Diego

Perfect for dates

If you’re sick of the usual movie, cafe, concert, or mall types of dates, why not go to a historical site?

The perfect time to visit Intramuros with a date is during the night. The walled city shines during the night, and in every corner you’ll discover its hidden charms.

Just be sure both of you are in it for the long run (if ya know what I mean). Just kidding. Moving onward.

So many pleasant surprises

Every time I visit the walled city, there’s always something new to discover. You’ll have to see it to believe it.

It’s not just old sites and historical discoveries. There’s also the diverse handicraft in Silahis Center, the sumptuous wine in Destileria Limtuaco Museum, and the charming canteen-style food in Patio de Conchita.

Patio de Conchita
Silahis Center
Destileria Limtuaco Museum

Simply put, there are so many things to see, learn, rediscover, and re-learn in the walled city. If you feel like you don’t know much about your own roots, then going to the city would probably be the discovery you need. If you need a breather and fresh take on life, then going there would probably make you feel better. Whatever it is, this city is for everyone.

Lastly, the most important thing about Intramuros is that it’s one of the center points of tourism in Metro Manila. We know not that many tourists visit the city because of traffic, but slowly, we can change that, and if improving the walled city is part of that process, then let’s continue supporting that progress.


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Exploring coffee shops in Intramuros

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For the past weeks, I’ve been working in coffee shops in Intramuros while exploring places in the afternoon with my loyal and trustworthy friend Google Maps. Recently, I’ve expanded my base of operations to Binondo. Before that, however, I want to share a thing or two about the coffee shops and bars I’ve encountered in Intramuros.

Barbara’s Coffee Shop

Barbara’s Coffee Shop, I would say, is like an introduction to me of what Intramuros could offer. When I first came in, I wasn’t that comfortable yet on working with my laptop in a coffee shop. I was used to working in the office and anywhere that’s not, well, a coffee shop — because I had this notion that it’s going to be costly for me to work in such places. Well, I made the right decision, and now I’m practically working in any coffee shop I can find. (Pro tip: All I had to keep doing was buy the cheapest coffee.)

So this is why Barbara’s was a memorable coffee shop to me. I went there during the latter part of August, and since then I’ve been roaring to visit unique and independent cafes like them.

Cafe Janealo

This cafe was a pleasant surprise to me. I didn’t plan on going here. I was supposed to go to another cafe, but realized that they’re closed already. Lo and behold, when I went in Cafe Janealo, it was the fanciest cafe I’ve been to in Intramuros. For starters, I ordered their brewed coffee which comes with suman (perfect combination!). I worked there for the rest of the morning while sipping my coffee and dipping the suman into it, before I went ahead and devour the sticky rice.

Come noon, it was time for lunch. I got myself some chicken skewers. It was rather expensive, but I thought, it’s only seldom that I come to this place. People also slowly started coming in for lunch. Luckily, I was about to finish my own. I managed to fix my things, stand up, and give the table to a group of people waiting for me.

La Cathedral Cafe

This cafe is yet again another pleasant surprise. You have to see it to believe it. Recently, they announced that their balcony will be opened soon. From the balcony, you get a good view of Intramuros, most especially the Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Concepcion. As usual, I bought brewed coffee and worked for the rest of the morning. During the afternoon, I had some really spicy and delicious Bicol Express. In these types of cafes, the ambiance and aura are what matter to me most.

Cioccolata Churros Cafe

Not gonna lie — this cafe didn’t really impress me that much. Maybe because I prefer dimly lit cafes, haha. Nonetheless, it’s a nice place to work in because it’s well-lit and they have a good selection in the menu. Like how I usually do, I bought brewed coffee and stayed there for the rest of the morning. They didn’t serve lunch though, so I looked for nearby food stalls. Luckily, I found one place where they sell bento meals for less than P50. Quite a good deal if you ask me.

Batala Bar

This is the bar I’ve been to most recently, and probably one of my favorites. They serve mostly local craft beer, coffee, and ice cream, as well as some products from social enterprises. I gotta say, they have an awesome vibe going on in the bar. The view from the balcony of the Plaza San Luis Complex is priceless. I sat on the table near the balcony. It was one of the most peaceful working environments I’ve been to (well, as long as you’re the only one there — luckily, I was).

That’s it so far for my coffee shop/bar escapades in Intramuros. There’s more to come for sure! (I just found out a new cafe opened up in the Plaza San Luis Complex!)


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/