Manila’s famed Walled City, which is home to The Bayleaf Intramuros Hotel, has completely reopened its door after four years of extensive renovations. Here are 6 reasons why you must hurry to see it in a new light.
1. It now sports a more welcoming facade.
The kalachuchi trees leading to the main entrance of Fort Santiago are festooned with capiz lamps that give a warm yellow glow once dusk has fallen.
2. Fort Santiago is now open until sundown.
Until a few months ago, Fort Santiago was open only until late afternoon. The gates would be closed, and only a few lights would remain open. But in the last quarter of 2019, the administration began allowing people to stay and explore the area until late at night because the lights were on and it was relatively cooler.
At night, these days, Fort Santiago takes on a more dramatic allure. The capiz lamps and monument lighting invite strollers to promenade down the paths. The red-brick ruins of the US barracks used to be off limits, but now visitors can walk up the ramp that leads to a walkway.
3. Several portions of the barracks are fortified.
These barracks used to serve as storage, but they’ve cleaned the area up and fortified certain portions. People are still not allowed to enter the structure but they can see how it must have looked like in the past.
4. The tree-lined plaza that used to serve as parking area was transformed into a garden.
The Alhambra-inspired look didn’t jibe with the area because Plaza Moriones was the traditional open grounds for military drills and parades. The administration oversaw the refurbishing which incorporated wide paths and greenery. Now, you have an unobstructed view of the Manila Cathedral from Fort Santiago.
5. The dungeons at the far end of Fort Santiago will be open at night for brave souls to explore.
The cells could hold about a hundred people at most, but close to 600 decomposing bodies were found forcibly crammed inside after World War II. Those who prefer to admire the sights from above the ground can head to the Postigo de la Nuestra Señora de Soledad, a postern or small gate—previously locked— used as escape route during sieges or emergencies.
6. Tourists can now hire e-trikes for a more convenient tour.
Outside the fort, visitors can get around via e-trikes (electric tricycles) that stop in key areas within Intramuros, like the Plazuela de Santa Isabel, with its monument known as the Memorare Manila, and the Galleria de Los Presidentes de la Republica Filipina.
But if you wish to enjoy a new experience, you can hire an eco-friendly bamboo bicycle and see the area’s historical and cultural treasures with a guide.
Another great option is stealing the “Laze and Roam Around Package” of The Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros. Getting a Deluxe Room for only PHP5,799 will let you earn a 60-minute guided tour of the Walled City using a Bambike. Buffet breakfast for 2 is also included in the package. Good thing, this Manila hotel promo at https://www.thebayleaf.com.ph/intramuros/promos/ is extended until May 31, 2020.
To get here, take Roxas Boulevard all the way to T.M. Kalaw Street, and then turn right at T.M. Kalaw. From there, turn left on Maria Orosa Street and then go straight crossing Padre Burgos Street. Once you have entered the gate of Intramuros, make another right on Muralla Street and then just follow the road to The Bayleaf Intramuros Hotel.