Sacré tour: Manila’s historic Intramuros open to tourists, devotees on Holy Thursday

The San Agustin Church. (Photo: San Agustin Church, Intramuros, Manila/FB)
The San Agustin Church. (Photo: San Agustin Church, Intramuros, Manila/FB)

Metro Manila is consistently the top Holy Week destination for travelers within the country. Lucky for them — the walled city of Intramuros, one of the city’s most historic landmarks, is inviting visitors inside on Holy Thursday. That’s this coming Thursday, April 18, FYI.

Also known as Maundy Thursday, the day’s activities coincide with the Catholic faith’s observance of Holy Week during the Lenten season. The highlight of most Holy Thursdays for Filipino devotees is Visita Iglesia, when they visit seven different churches to pray to the Blessed Sacrament.

Nine churches and chapels inside Intramuros will be open from 9am – 12mn for that very reason, the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DOT) announced.

This includes the grand Neo-romanesque Manila Cathedral; the Baroque San Agustin Church, one of the oldest churches in the country; and the chapel inside the historic Fort Santiago.

Photo: Manila Cathedral website.
The Manila Cathedral. Photo: Manila Cathedral

Other places of worship that will be open include the Fr. Willman Chapel, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila Chapel, Mapua Chapel, Lyceum of the Philippines Chapel, Colegio de San Juan de Letran Chapel, and BIR Chapel.

For devotees, this means they can easily knock down seven churches that are all within walking distance from each other. Stations of the Cross and penitential services will also be available on several sites.

For foreign tourists who were not aware of the religious holiday before arriving in Manila, the occasion marks a good time to tour Intramuros and learn about its history while immersing themselves in local traditions.

Intramuros is a historic walled city in Manila that was established by the Spaniards in the late 1500s. While many colonial buildings in the capital were destroyed during World War II, parts of Intramuros still stand to this day and provide a peek into the old Manila. Apart from the churches, tourists can also see schools, monuments, plazas, and other points of interest.

However, other sites like museums will be closed on that day, including the Rizal Shrine, Casa Manila, Baluarte de San Diego, and the San Agustin Museum.

Fort Santiago. (Photo: Therese Reyes)
Fort Santiago. Photo: Therese Reyes

According to the DOT’s post, there will be free-flowing drinking water at Plaza Roma, so visitors are encouraged to bring reusable bottles. Portalets will also be set up in a couple of areas.

The Tourism Department is also reminding people to line-up properly, avoid flash photography, observe silence, dispose of trash properly (and in the right bins), avoid using disposable containers, and to wear appropriate clothing.

The churches will also be open the following day, on Good Friday, from 9am to 7pm.

For more information, visit the DOT website. A full list of activities and Lenten services are available on the Intramuros Holy Week 2019 event page.

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