City of Manila

The Curious Existence of Centro de Turismo Intramuros

When The Urban Roamer first heard about the then-upcoming landmark to rise in Intramuros called Centro de Turismo Intramuros, I figured it was probably a new facility by the Department of Tourism in the area, maybe a convention center or events venue that is not unlike the old Clamshell building which stood at the former Ateneo Municipal site in the Walled City. Then it’s being touted as a place that will showcase Intramuros in a different light or something like that which made this roamer even more intrigued. And confused.

Then I came to learn where it’s located, which is at the former San Ignacio Church ruins which made things even more confusing for me. Isn’t that the site of the Museo de Intramuros? As far as I knew, the church grounds itself while not actually part of the Museo was under its administration still as they were looking to somewhat restore the church structure itself in one way or another. So is the museum now part of the Centro de Turismo? I had to know what the real score was.

Turns out the Centro de Turismo Intramuros (CDTI) is in fact a separate place from Museo de Intramuros (MDI) though they are not only beside each other but also are connected to one another. (in fact, if you’re in the CDTI and have to go to the restroom, you will be directed to the one located in the MDI)., The difference comes into play in terms of admission as while entrance to the CDTI is free for now, MDI charges a PHP 70 entrance fee at the time of writing.

That does not even take into account the fact that both venues were originally part of the greater San Ignacio Church complex, so it made no sense why the need to separate these venues, thus breaking the historic context of this area. But that being said, the question now is, what makes Centro de Turismo Intramuros different that warrants it to be separate from the Museo de Intramuros?

The answer becomes apparent the moment you step inside CDTI as you will be treated to not just a regular museum visit but an Intramuros experience with a modern flavor. Inside the place, you will get to learn a bit about the history of Intramuros and Manila, and it is welcome to see a museum in Intramuros, and Manila in general, that delves a bit more into its history even if it does not offer a bit more information that I wanted.

But one thing that struck me is the experience of being inside Centro de Turismo Intramuros. In a way, it is an immersive experience to just look at the scale of the place and be reminded of what the old San Ignacio Church was like, which was said to be one of the most beautiful churches in Manila, if not the Philippines, before the war. Even if there were many people inside the CDTI, there is that sense of understated grandeur one feels when stepping inside the place that it’s somewhat hard to describe.

But while I appreciated the understated grandeur of Centro de Turismo Intramuros, I feel it also holds the place back in a way that it does not do justice to the historic beauty of the old San Ignacio Church. Which is weird for me to say as someone who appreciates minimalism. While I’m not necessarily advocating for the CDTI to look exactly like the old church considering its purpose now, the least that could have been done was to add more elements that would both complement what CDTI is about, which is to showcase the history and importance of Intramuros and pay homage to the grandeur of the old San Ignacio Church.

From what I heard, more will be done in the future to further improve Centro de Turismo Intramuros. That would be something I look forward to because I believe in the potential of CDTI to be one of the most popular destinations in Intramuros and Manila. Here’s hoping the Intramuros Administration and the Department of Tourism will be able to realize its hidden potential.

This art installation represents the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade which docked near the shores of Intramuros and boosted the commerce and trade in the Walled City and the country as a whole.

As mentioned earlier, entrance is free at the moment so there would be a lot of people going there. As such, the personnel devised a strict by-batch admission, which means only a number of people would be allowed inside at a particular schedule and once inside, can only stay for a maximum of 30 minutes to accommodate as many visitors as possible. So once you get in, take time to get immersed in the Intramuros experience Centro de Turismo Intramuros offers.

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