Ads 468x60px

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Fort Santiago (Spanish: Fuerza de Santiago Tagalog: Moog ng Santiago) is a citadel first built by Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi for the new established city of Manila in the Philippines. The defense fortress is part of the structures of the walled city of Manila referred to as Intramuros ("within the walls").

The fort is one of the most important historical sites in Manila. Several lives were lost in its prisons during the Spanish Colonial Period and World War II. José Rizal, the Philippines' national hero, was imprisoned here before his execution in 1896. The Rizal Shrine museum displays memorabilia of the hero in their collection and the fort features, embedded onto the ground in bronze, his footsteps representing his final walk from his cell to the location of the actual execution.

The location of Fort Santiago was once the site of a palisaded fort, armed with bronze guns, of Rajah Sulaiman, a Muslim chieftain of pre-Hispanic Manila. It was destroyed by maestre de campo (master-of-camp) Martin de Goiti who, upon arriving in 1570 from Cebu, fought several battles with the Islamic natives. The Spaniards started building Fort Santiago (Fuerza de Santiago) after the establishment of the city of Manila under Spanish rule on June 24, 1571, and made Manila the capital of the newly colonized country.

The first fort was a structure of palm logs and earth. Most of it was destroyed when the city was invaded by Chinese pirates led by Limahong. Martin de Goiti was killed during the siege. After a fierce conflict, the Spaniards under the leadership of Juan de Salcedo, eventually drove the pirates out to Pangasinan province to the north, and eventually out of the country.

The construction of Fort Santiago with hard stone, together with the original fortified walls of Intramuros, commenced in 1590 and finished in 1593 during the reign of Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas. The stones used were volcanic tuff quarried from Guadalupe (now Gualupe Viejo in Makati).[6] The fort as Dasmariñas left it consisted of a castellated structure without towers, trapezoidal in trace, its straight gray front projecting into the river mouth. Arches supported an open gun platform above, named the battery of Santa Barbara, the patron saint of all good artillerymen. These arches formed casemates which afforded a lower tier of fire through embrasures. Curtain walls of simplest character, without counter forts or interior buttresses, extended the flanks to a fourth front facing the city.

During World War II, Fort Santiago was captured by the Japanese Imperial Army, and used its prisons and dungeons including the storage cells and gunpowder magazines for hundreds of prisoners who were killed near the end of the war (see Manila massacre).[9] The fort sustained heavy damage from American and Filipino mortar shells during the Battle of Manila in February 1945.

Fort Santiago, the 16th century military defense structure, stands witness to the valor and heroism of the Filipino through the centuries. Today, the fort, its bastions, and the prison dungeons for criminals used by the Spanish officials, is now part of a historical park which also includes the Plaza del Moriones (also called the Plaza de Armas) and several ruins. The park houses well-preserved legacies from the Spanish Colonial Period including Jose Rizal memorabilia at the Rizal Shrine.

Adaptive use of this famous historical landmark makes certain areas ideal for open air theater, picnics, and as a promenade. The Intramuros Visitors center gives an overview of the various attractions in the walled city.

After is destruction during WWII, Fort Santiago was declared as a Shrine of Freedom in 1950. Its restoration by the Philippine government did not begin till 1953 under the hands of the National Parks Development Committee. The Intramuros Administration now manages the reconstruction, maintenance and management of the fort since 1992.


Post a Comment