Baluarte de San Diego

This stone fort once repelled attacks by invading armies and is today a popular tourist spot and venue for wedding ceremonies.

Baluarte de San Diego is one of the oldest stone fortifications in Manila. Today it offers insight into the city’s history, views of the city, and gardens lined with pathways and fountains. The defensive structure was built between 1586 and 1587 by a Jesuit priest with knowledge of military architecture. It was built to withstand heavy artillery fire and was originally known as Nuestra Senora de Guia (Our Lady of Guidance).

Before venturing up the spiral stone staircase that leads to the fort, read the information that outlines some of its history. You can’t walk among the moss and fern-covered ruins but the railing-lined walkway is a good vantage point to see what’s left of the ancient stronghold. There are also good photo opportunities here that look out across the city.

Pore over the fort’s structure. As well as the remains of the walls, the most notable sites are the three large rings of stone, spaced several meters apart and connected by crossways. It’s thought that this could have been the base of a tower.

The fort was damaged by British forces in the 1760s, wrecked by an earthquake in 1862 and almost destroyed by the bombs of World War II. It was restored during the 1980s.

See the fort’s surviving cannons and read their inscriptions. One tells you that it was cast in Barcelona on 25 October 1788. See the lookout post that once helped to guard the city.

Spend some time in the gardens that surround the old fort. Walk along the pathways, stop by the fountain, sit by the grass and view the old steam tractor. The well maintained grounds are also a popular location for wedding ceremonies. Take heed of the sign post that reads “Watch Out Flying Golf Balls,” as the fort and gardens are situated near a golf course.

Baluarte de San Diego is located in the south of the walled city of Intramuros, opposite Rizal Park and a short walk away from the Central light rail station. The fort and gardens are open daily and admission charges apply.