Photo by Rena Jean Still

The historic walled city of Intramuros has welcomed back tourists to three of its sites—Fort Santiago, Casa Manila Museum, and Baluarte de San Diego—three weeks ago (February 17), after being closed for months due to pandemic-related restrictions.

To limit the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19, visitor numbers would be limited. Only 100 people would be allowed in Fort Santiago at a time, 15 in Casa Manila, and 100 in Baluarte de San Diego.

This is just a fraction of the actual carrying capacity for these sites. Before the pandemic, visitors at Fort Santiago alone used to average 10,000 a day.

The reopening comes shortly after Intramuros was hailed once more as Asia’s leading tourist attraction in the 2020 World Travel Awards, the second time it secured the title after bagging the award in 2016. It bested other world-class landmarks such as India’s Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.

The Intramuros Administration (IA) said in a press conference that it is also preparing for the influx of visitors in the coming Holy Week.

“Intramuros is ready and prepared for its reopening following the easing of quarantine restrictions… COVID-19 drastically changed people’s relation with streets, public spaces, and public facilities. The pandemic illustrates the value for accessible open spaces abundant in Intramuros that allow movement within dense urban areas,” tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.

Baluarte de San Diego. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario

Aside from museum visits and a walk inside the tranquil Fort Santiago, tourists can opt to explore Intramuros’ by a ride in a “Bambike” or bamboo bike.

While the IA said only visitors aged 15 years to 65 years would be allowed inside, the Department of Tourism is recommending a one-day exemption to allow children below 15 years old to be able to visit Intramuros to make it a family affair.

Entrance fee for each site costs P75 for adults, and P50 for students and persons with disabilities.

Guests would be required to register their visit on app for contact-tracing purposes.