Exploring Manila’s History: Fort Santiago

I’ve been living in Manila since I was 8 years old, and I hate to admit this but despite of the one-car-ride-away distance from Fort Santiago, I’ve only been there two times! Shameful, I know, my first visit was because it’s a requirement of our Intro to Humanities subject and second is because I just want to. (and I needed a new blog post!)


Aaaah.. Fort Santiago. It’s truly a wonderful ruin, a majestic remnant of Philippine history. It’s construction started in 1590 and was completed in 1593, but due to wars and natural disasters the fort was ruined and reconstructed/rennovated in 1733.

It is built by Spanish Conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi for the newly established City of Manila. The fort was named after Saint James the Great (Santiago in Spanish), who is the patron saint of Spain, and also, the seal (kind of) that can be seen on the facade of Fort Santiago is of Saint James.

Fort Santiago when translated in Spanish is Fuerte de Santiago and Moog ng Santiago in Tagalog. The main purpose of constructing it is to be a citadel, which means as a defensive core or the last line of defense when worst comes to worst. It is also used for trading since it is found along Pasig River, and you know how they make business with passing ships, right? It is also speculated that the Galleon Trade started in Fort Santiago, if the speculations are true, then that’s awesome!


The facade of Fort Santiago where Saint James and his relief is.

The fort is one of the most important historical sites in Manila. It housed a lot of prisoners, one of them being Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. He stayed imprisoned there until his execution in 1896, his footsteps representing his last walk from his cell to the location of the execution can be found marked by steel shoe prints.

How is Fort Santiago today?

Today, Fort Santiago is a historical park located inside Intramuros, which is also a historical city itself because Intramuros is called The Walled City, so it’s history inside a history.

Anyway, since Fort Santiago is important to the Filipino’s struggle and Dr. Rizal’s last moments, getting inside it is definitely not free. Children and Students have to pay 50 pesos, while adults pay 75 pesos. I’m assuming that this entrance fee maybe used in the maintenance of the fort. I mean, it’s literally a hundred years old.



The fort definitely feeds your sense of sight, with its great landscaping and an abundance of flora and fauna. The three fountains in the middle are surrounded by different types of flowers, some coconut trees and also ruins.





You can also find a souvenir store and a cafe inside. Carriages are most likely to be everywhere, except that it looks like Cinderella designed them herself (don’t get me wrong, I love them!). A train is also available to give you a tour.

The guards in here also wears a Spanish era type of uniform which adds to the historical-back-in-time feels that this place have.

Sitting statues and standing statues can be spotted along the way. You can also try the standees that has its face cut-out, put your face in there and let a friend of yours snap a picture of you to share with everyone on Instagram!


Facing the facade of the fort is the Philippine flag, standing mighty and tall.


When you walk past the facade, you’ll be greeted by Rizal’s monument standing in the middle of the grass field. On your left is the Dambana ni Rizal, where artifacts, relics, achievements, life moments, sculptures and paintings of our national hero are displayed.



Fort Santiago surely has a lot to offer for both tourists and locals.



At the end of this adventure, I learned a lot about my country and the hardships that my fellow countrymen went through. It’s just fascinating to ponder on the thought that I have been able to fully explore Fort Santiago and enjoy it, because I was imagining a scenario everytime I see a ruin or an artifact.

So, there you have it, guys and gals, this has been my Fort Santiago journey and I hope that this entry encouraged you to visit this amazing place and learn more about our history.

Signing off.



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