Backpacking Philippines,  Luzon

Baluarte de San Diego in Intramuros, Manila

Beyond the towering walls of Muralla, in a corner of an old town whose name is across the history books of the Philippines, lies a magnificent yet significant structure that holds stories of the past dating from hundreds of years ago. This is Baluarte de San Diego.

The Baluarte de San Diego Complex

The Complex actually houses two significant structures: the Baluarte de San Diego itself – the ace-of-spades shaped bastion; and the ruins of Torre de Nuestra Señora de Guia (Our Lady of Guidance) – the three-tiered circular walls. It is considered as the oldest stone fort in Manila built between late 1500’s and early 1600’s during the Spanish era. It was built out of the need for the city’s defense since an empire has been established in it. The fortification is said to be a symbol of power of the Spanish in Manila.

History of Baluarte de San Diego

The Jesuit priest and architect named Antonio Sedeño (1586-1587) designed Baluarte de San Diego. This ace-of-spades shaped bastion used to defend the city during the war. Also, the protruded part used to serve as a lookout area for incoming ships sailing at the Manila bay.
The structure has withstood several catastrophic events including the war with the British Army in 1762 and an earthquake in 1863. During the American occupation, the ruins began to be filled in with earth that blanketed its existence. In the late 1900’s, the Intramuros Administration started an excavation at the bastion for historical restoration. With great efforts, a part of the fortification has been restored an was declared as a National Historical Monument in 1951.
In 2014, the National Museum declared the site as a National Cultural Treasure.
The bulwark is seated at the Southwest corner of the walled city facing Manila bay.  Presently, it peacefully sits at the corner of Sta. Lucia St., Intramuros beside a vast plain turned into a golf course.

The Stone Fort of Baluarte de San Diego

At the foot of the stone fort
Photo by Jameson Go

Visitors can enter the upper portion of the low-rise remains of the stone fort through the stairs. The dungeon and the grounds inside the tower, however, is a restricted area. It can be best enjoyed, though, by just looking at it from the brim of the concentric structure.

The stone staircase of the fort
Photo by Jameson Go
View from the other side of the circle
Photo by Jameson Go
Photo by Jameson Go

San Diego Gardens

The grounds outside the tower of Baluarte de San Diego is now turned into a lovely garden. There are pergola and gazebos installed around and grass areas ideal for picnic. Take note that pets and smoking are strictly not allowed in the area.
Visited Baluarte de San Diego with our bambike!
Rent here
Photo by Jameson Go
View of San Diego Gardens from the tower
 Visitors have to pay an amount of Php 75.00 upon entrance. Students with valid ID, on the other hand, can enter upon paying Php 50.00. Events such as weddings, family gatherings and other special occasions can also be held at San Diego Gardens. However, it is closed to the public shall there be one.
A Japanese canon installed inside the Gardens


Address: Sta. Lucia St., Intramuros, Manila City
Operating hours: Monday to Sunday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Telephone: (02) 527-3096

Explore Intramuros

Baluarte De San Diego Complex is just one of the many points of interest inside Intramuros. It can be best explored for half an hour then you can spend the rest of the day discovering the other historical sites inside the city. If you choose to stay for a day inside the walled city, you can also visit San Agustin Church and Museum, Manila Cathedral, Casa Manila, Fort Santiago and the Museums. The best way to go to and from these points is through renting a Bambike

Anne Elizabeth Gumiran, also known as Queenie, is a 20-something, full-time public school teacher, a part-time travel blogger and a freediver. She started putting her stories of adventures and misadventures into words and pictures in 2017 and continues to do so as she shares her advocacy, Sustainable Traveling.

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