Philippines March 2005 055

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    Fort Santiago description from Wikipedia:

    Fort Santiago (Fuerza de Santiago) is a defense fortress built for Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi. The fort is part of the structures of the walled city of Intramuros, in Manila, Philippines.

    The location of Fort Santiago was also once the site of the palace and kingdom of Rajah Suliman, chieftain of Manila of pre-Spanish era. It was destroyed by the conquistadors upon arriving in 1570, encountering several bloody battles with the Muslims and native Tagalogs. The Spaniards destroyed the native settlements and erected Fuerza de Santiago in 1571.

    The first fort was made out of log structures and earth. Most of it was destroyed in the Spanish-Chinese War of (1574-1575), by invaders of ethnic Chinese pirates who besieged the area. The Spaniards fought a bloody conflict and eventually drove the pirates out. In 1589 the fort was constructed with hard stone and finished in 1592. It became the main fort for travels and spice trade to the Americas and Europe for 333 years. The famous Manila Galleon trade to Acapulco, Mexico started sailing from Fuerza de Santiago.

    The fort is shielded by 22-feet-high walls, with a thickness of 8 feet and an entrance measuring 40 feet high. It is located at the mouth of the Pasig River and it was once the premier defense fortress of the Spanish Government in the Philippines. During World War II it was captured by the Japanese, and sustained heavy damage from American & Filipino bombs during the Battle of Manila in February 1945. It was later restored by the Intramuros Administration during the 1980s. Today the fort serves as a museum which houses well-preserved legacies of the Spanish government, Jose Rizal (which is called the Plaza de Armas), Rizal Shrine, and the prison dungeons for criminals used by the Spanish officials.

    José Rizal, the country's national hero, was imprisoned here before his execution in 1896.

    The Fort was featured as the first pit-stop in The Amazing Race Asia 2.

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