Meaning literally "within the walls," Intramuros is Manila's historic heart and its oldest neighborhood. The Spanish began constructing the walls towards the end of the 16th century, and for the next 350 years this ½-square-km of real estate has remained a thriving center of government, culture, and trade. Time, tropical weather, wars, and earthquakes have combined to fade its glory somewhat, and it suffered particularly heavy damage during Manila's liberation from the Japanese in 1945, but restoration work in recent decades has halted the decline, and it continues as a priceless remnant of colonial architecture that drips history from every corner. There are numerous old houses with whitewashed facades and iron-rail balconies, as well as the city's former first line of defense, Fort Santiago. But the main highlights are the several churches, not least of all San Augustin on General Antonio Luna, and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Immaculate Conception—more usually known simply as Manila Cathedral—on Plaza de Roma.
Between Bonifacio Drive and Burgos Street, Manila, Philippines