Casa Manila Museum Intramuros A Journey to the Past

I grew up in Tondo, Manila and yes, I admit I’ve been to Intramuros countless times. To be honest, I never got the chance to fully explore Intramuros back then. I recently revisited this place when I attended a Sunday mass with my family at the Manila Cathedral. After the mass, we strolled along the walled streets of Intramuros and visited some museums.

Although most places in Manila has been modernized (high rise budings and large shopping centers sprouted all over the city), one thing I am sure of is that Intramuros remained its timeless charm.

Let’s get to know more about Intramuros by getting inside the Casa Manila opposite San Agustin Church.

Casa Manila

A museum which features the domestic life of the upper class citizen in the 19th century. Built from 1981 to 1983. It is a replica of an 1850’s San Nicolas house that was once located in Calle Jaboneros. It was contracted by Imelda Marcos during 1980’s and modeled on Spanish colonial architecture. It houses rare collections of antique wooden furniture, crystal chandeliers, Chinese ceramic vases, oil paintings and authentic kitchen tools to name a few.

At the ground floor are the Zaguan & Patio, Cabbelariza and the souvenir item store.

The walls of the ground floor are made of Adobe (vulcanic tuff) which was used as the main building material in the Colony during the late 16th to late 19th century. This is the same material to build the walls of Intramuros.

Zaguan -It is through the zaguan (corridor) that carruaje (carries) entered, dropping off passengers by the stairs which lead to the entersuelo.
Patio- it has a granite pavement and a fountain at the center. The fountain is a feature that appeared after running water was introduced to Manila in 1882.
Cabbelariza (stable) this is where the house owner’s carriages were garaged.
A souvenir item shop is located at the ground floor where locally made products are available

Entresuelo– A sort of mezzanine, the entresuelo usually contained a receiving area for tradesmen, an office, and some bedrooms. Starting from the late 19th century some entresuelo in Intramuros were rented out as an apartments for students enrolled in the different universities.

A 19th century portrait of Melchor delos Reyes in oil canvas. A commoda (commode) made of narra wood with a carabao inlay from Bulacan dated 1891
A 19th century portrait of Liberata delos Reyes in oil canvas. A commoda (commode) made of tindalo wood with carabao inlay from Nueva Ecija dated 1870

Cuarto – the room in the entresuelo usually occupied by an unmarried aunt or uncle. Other rooms was used for siesta or for accommodation of an overnight guests.

The elaborated carved Ah-tay bed is a status symbol during 19th century. It was named after the Chinese furniture maker in Binondo who carved it.

The second floor displays the finest furnitures in the house. Showing off family’s opulence and status.

The family would usually use this anteroom for parlor games or for entertaining casual guests.
Consola (console table) with marble top is a narra wood from Luzon.
Date: 19th century
Narra wood Bastonero (cane or umbrella rack) date: late 19th century


These stoneware bathtubs are from China.

Comedor the walls of the dining area were lined with plateras or several side boards which display familys porcelain, silver and glassware. The furniture was used not only for storage but also to impress visitors.

Note the punkah, a wide manually operated ceiling fan. The device was brought from India during the British occupation of Manila in 1762-1764, not only circulate the air to cool the guest, but also shooed the flies away from the table groaning under the food on the table.

Cocina– This is the typical kitchen in the 19th century. The cement- like top of the stove is made of paste composed of sifted ashes and water. Bread was baked by piling live charcoal along the interior side of the oven, with the bread at the center.

Table and bench isa molave and balayong wood from Batangas
dated early 19th century
At the table are 19th century old hardwood biscuit molder from Pampanga and flat iron in various sizes
Banguera a wooden dish rack in 19th century

Azotea the azotea serves many purposes. The aljibe or water cistern that supplies water to the household is located here. Activities that require large amount of water is done here like laundry, gardening as well as butchering of pigs and chicken for family meal. Rain water from the roof gutters were collected through the stone column, which led to the filter of charcoal, gravel and sand and then to the cistern.

Various herbs used for cooking are grown in the azotea like tanglad or lemon grass, pandan to name a few.

The guards served as our museum guide. They are friendly and very knowledgeable about everything that inside the museum.

Address:Plaza San Luis Complex, Cor. Real & Gen. Luna Sts. Intramuros, Manila


Museum Hours:9 am – 6 pm

Closed On: Monday

Entrance Fee: Adults Php 75 ; Students/Teachers/Senior Citizens Php 50

Thank you for reading!

God bless always❤️