Sqatters shacks next to the Manila Cathedral in Manila|
Intramuros, located on the southern bank of the Pasig River, was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century and is the oldest district of the city of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Its name, in Spanish, Intramuros, literally "within the walls", meaning within the wall enclosure of the city/fortress, also describes its structure as it is surrounded by thick, high walls and moats. During the Spanish colonial period, Intramuros was considered Manila itself.
In 1564, conquistadors led by Miguel López de Legazpi sailed from New Spain (Mexico) and arrived on the island of Cebu in February 13, 1565. There they established the first Spanish colony in the archipelago. Having heard of rich resources of Manila by local natives, López de Legazpi dispatched two of his Lieutenant-commanders, Martín de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo to explore the northern regions of the Visayas.
In 1570, the Spaniards arrived in the island of Luzon. After quarrels had erupted between the Islamic natives and the Spaniards; Goiti and López de Legazpi's soldiers waged war on the people, before they were able to take control and establish a permanent settlement in the area. In 1571 after the natives were defeated in battle, López de Legazpi made a peace pact with Rajah Sulayman, Rajah Lakandula and Rajah Matanda; who, in return, handed over Manila to the Spaniards.
Citing the rich resources and location of Manila; López de Legazpi declared the area as the new capital of the Spanish colony in the Philippines on June 24, 1571. The King of Spain, delighted at the new conquest achieved by López de Legazpi and his men, awarded the city a coat of arms and declaring it Ciudad Insigne y Siempre Leal ("Distinguished and ever loyal city").
The planning of the city of Manila was commenced by López de Legazpi who had become the first Governor general on the islands. He established forts, roads, churches and schools. The plans for Intramuros were based on King Philip II's Royal Ordinance issued on July 3, 1573 in San Lorenzo, Spain. It's design was based upon a star fort or trace italienne (a very flat structure composed of many triangular bastions, specifically designed to cover each other, and a ditch) and covered 64 hectares of land, surrounded by 8 feet thick stones and high walls that rise 22 feet.It was built to protect the seat of the Government by raiding Chinese pirates, especially Lim-Ah-Hong.