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Information about Fort Santiago

6317 Google reviews
Cultural attractions
Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines
Opening hours
08:00 - 19:00
Distance From City Center
361 m
High season
Established date
Average rating
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Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago is the oldest Spanish bastion in the Philippines. Situated inside the walled city of Intramuros in Manila, the site witnessed many historical events of the Philippines.

The exact spot where Fort Santiago now stands was once a Muslim kingdom ruled by a chieftain named Rajah Sulayman. When the Spaniards landed in the Philippines in 1571, they destroyed the site and built a fortress instead, naming it after Spain’s patron saint, Saint James (Santiago in Spanish). The structure served as their defense fortress.

The original fort was made of logs and soil but was torn down by Chinese pirates under the command of Limahong in 1574. It was rebuilt using carved stones and mud cement between 1589 and 1592, but a terrible earthquake in 1645 damaged most parts of the structure again. The Spaniards then reconstructed the fortress from 1658 to 1663.

In 1762, the British came and ruled until 1764, using Fort Santiago as their headquarters. The Americans then arrived in 1778 and renovated the fort which became a U.S Army Philippines Division Command Center.

And in 1942 during World War II, the Japanese conquered the Philippines and made use of the fort as their military base and prison. It is said that they have imprisoned and tortured about 2,500 to 3,000 Filipinos and Americans in the site.

In 1945, the U.S Liberation Forces came and fought against the Japanese, causing severe damage to the fort. It then served as a depot of the U.S. Transportation Corps later on.

The U.S Military turned over the bastion to the Philippine Government in 1946, and it was announced as a Shrine of Freedom in 1950. A year later, the National Park Development Committee restored the fort and transferred it to the Intramuros Administration in 1992.


How to get there

The fastest and most accessible way to reach the fort is by a guided tour of Old Manila, but you can also go on your own by public transport. If you're taking the LRT, get off at Central Station and take a quick walk to the Fort Entrance, or get off at Carriedo Station and catch a jeepney to Mabini.


Best time to visit

It can be visited anytime but it’s best to go during dry season. Fort Santiago is open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.


Entrance fee

There is a minimal entrance fee to Fort Santiago for adults. For students, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities, there is a discount.

Frequently asked questions

What can you see inside Fort Santiago?

Fort Santiago, being a former military base, holds many relics and items dating back from the Spanish era until the Japanese occupation. Around the site are plenty of cannons and shells used during the wars.

Dungeons and underground chambers can also be seen in the fort, one in which Jose Rizal was imprisoned. There are also buildings with visible ruins due to the war between the invaders.

What is the most visited part of Fort Santiago?

The most visited part of Fort Santiago is the Rizal shrine, which is a tribute to Dr. Jose Rizal, Philippine’s national hero who battled the Spaniards with the use of his words.

Is there a museum inside Fort Santiago?

Yes, it’s called the Rizal Museum. The museum displays Rizal’s memorabilia including his life, books, artworks, and artifacts. You also get to see his actual bone with a bullet wound preserved inside a glass case. There is also an imitation of his cell and courtroom inside the museum. Outside of the museum, there are bronze footsteps of Rizal embedded on the pavement, showing his trail towards his execution site in 1896 which is now Rizal Park.

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