Friday, May 20, 2016

Manila Part Three: More Intramuros

We had a brief look around Intramuros on the day we arrived in Manila, but that wasn't really enough time to look around. On our second day we spent more time exploring, most of that time was spend looking around the amazing San Agustin Church and Museum.
This photo was taken in from of the beautiful carved doors of the San Agustin Church, which you can tell is a pretty exceptional building.
The first time we visited the church there was a wedding happening, so the church was very busy. This time around the church doors were closed and everything was much quieter so it seemed like a good time to visit. There is an entry to both the church and museum on the right hand side of these big doors.
As  soon as you walk through the doors you are hit with all manner of incredible art - so much to see, its almost like your brain can't take it all in.

We chose to check out the church before the museum and really this church is incredible, so ornate.

After visiting the church, we spent a lot of the afternoon visiting the various air conditioned galleries in the museum.
The halls of the church and museum complex were impressive and lined with all kinds of incredible art works.

The first hall we stopped at included a number of icons/statutes from the church, this beautiful carving was bought over from Spain for the church.

This gallery also included an explanation of how these icon/statutes were created, the heads and arms were originally made from ivory. I really hope this isn't the case anymore.
The next gallery we visited wasn't really a gallery at all - it was a cemetery of sorts. When I worked out what little door was for I assumed that the people (or ashes) in each compartment must have been there for a very long time, while this was true in some cases, some of the "doors" (I'm not really sure what else to call them)  included the ashes of people that had died in the late 2000's.

The area where the ashes were held also included some absolutely beautiful stained glass  windows.
There was a lot to take in while walking around the galleries so we decided to take a break and walk around the garden that is part of the church/museum. It is a small garden, but really pretty and obviously very well cared for. I loved the orbs hanging in the trees, I noticed those in a few places in Manila,  I really need to do more research to find out the significance.

We then spent a lot of time wandering through the galleries upstairs, so much amazing art and so many stories as well. It's quite an incredible place.

Finally here's a few photos of the garden's below from the top story of the church/museum, its really a lovely view.
Our final stop on our return to Intramuros was just as interesting as the San Agustin Church and Museum, but its history was perhaps a little darker.
Our second stop of the day was Fort Santiago, as you might have already guessed, Fort Santiago was first established by the Spanish when they colonised The Philippines.
The fort wasn't only used by the Spanish however, its been used by various colonisers over time, after the Spanish came the British (for a short period of time) then the Americans and it was also held by the Japanese during world war II.

I'm not a religious person at all, but there are some places I've traveled which give me something I eloquently like to describe as the "bad feels" - I got the bad feels at Hoa Lo Prison (the Hanoi Hilton) in Vietnam and Seodaemun Prison in Korea and something about Fort Santiago gave me the same bad feels. It's the feeling you get when you know some terrible things have happened somewhere and there's some bad energy or something in the area.
That said, I have never regretted visiting anywhere that has given me "bad feels" - in fact once I leave it usually makes me feel pretty thankful for my place in the world.

When you first enter Fort Santiago, you're greeted by some bleak sites, like the prison cell above. However there is also a beautiful garden area with lots of seats and although there are lots of tourists (both Filipinos and Foreigners) its a lot calmer than the streets of Intramuros outside the walls of the Fort.

Also in this area there are a lot of buildings that are now little more than remains or ruins.
There were of course plenty of reminders around that you were standing in what was once a fort.
We walked through  the gardens, across the river to the impressive gate at the fort.

Like a lot of Intramuros the gate was destroyed in the battle of Manila during the second world war, but it now looks pretty incredible. When you walk through the gate you are met with many other relics to explore.

One of the significant things about Fort Santiago is that Jose Rizal who was a Filipino Nationalist who was executed by the Spanish near the end of their colonial rule of The Philippines for rebellion. He wasn't in fact involved in the planning of a rebellion or fighting, but his writings inspired revolution in The Philippines.
I read online that Rizal was so loved by Filipinos that when he was going to be executed by firing squad the Spanish weren't sure Filipino soldiers would actually execute him, they had some Spanish soldiers also attend the execution as back up in case the Filipinos couldn't or wouldn't execute Rizal.

There was a mock up of Rizal in the cell where he was held and you could follow his steps to the place where he was executed.
I really do want to learn more about Rizal as he is such a fascinating person, this is really why I love to travel so much, there are so many amazing humans in history and I know so little as I only know history from my own perspective. It gives us a chance to really learn and understand more about the world.
If you follow in Rizal's steps you end up in a large concrete area which is where I  assume the execution took place. It's a pretty calm area now with a view of the Pasig River and Manila.
There was also a Rizal Museum at the top of the stairs, unfortunately we arrived too late in the day and it had already closed. However, there was still a lot of other things to explore in this area.

We walked along a pathway until we arrived at another large concrete area, at this stage it was getting close to closing time so we had to rush a bit.

We made our way out of the gate and saw a bunch of horse and carriages waiting for some other tourists, these are everywhere in Intramuros. The look a bit like Cinderella's carriage in this photo, but I always feel so bad for the horses - having to share the road with cars, scooters, motorbikes just can't be nice for them.

Behind the horse and carriage you can see the Filipino flag being taken down for the day (definitely time to make our way back to the hotel!)
Well this has turned into a pretty huge post, but there's probably even more I could say! I think you should all go to Intramuros, its tough a times, but its full of amazing people and sites and so much history.
I just thought I'd finish off with a lovely photo of some flowers I took in the gardens on our way out of Fort Santiago, so lovely.


Vix said...

Wow! What a magnificently opulent cathedral. I remember the first time I visited Spain and being overwhelmed by the amount of gold leaf in their places of worship. No wonder the church is one of the richest organisations in the world.
The doorways are fabulous and you're rocking the maxi! xxx

Louise said...

Everything looks so beautiful and fascinating. The huge ornate doors look incredible, and so does all the art, statues, and stained glass windows. It's nice to see that the memorial wall doors (or whatever those things are called) are decorated with flowers, and the people who passed are still remembered. Oh, and I totally believe in the bad feels. I've definitely felt it in some of the places I've been, even in our dining room. That room still gives me the creeps after eighteen years in this house!

I love reading your travel posts. They always give me so much wanderlust and I feel like I learn a lot with each one. I'd love to visit these places in Asia one day, but until then I'll just have to live vicariously through you! xx

Kezzie said...

What an incredibly ornate place! so beautiful!!! I would love to visit Manila- it does sound hugely varied and interesting from your post!xx