Manila’s hidden Fort San Antonio Abad is still intact

The main entrance of Fort San Antonio Abad

The main entrance of Fort San Antonio Abad

Tucked inside the Central Bank Complex in Manila and just behind the Metropolitan Museum of Manila is one of the city’s existing fort, Fuerte de San Antonio Abad. The beginnings of this structure dates back to 1584 as a means of protecting the southern part of the city. However, it was taken over by the British in 1762 during their invasion.

The fort was rebuilt at the start of the 19th century with two bastions and was used as a powder magazine and aptly named, La Polvorista. On August 31, 1898, Lt Col McCoy of the First Colorado Regiment hoisted the American flag, the first time it was flown in the Philippines. During World War II, it was occupied by the Japanese where a they built a bunker. The present look is the result of renovations and rehabilitation in the 1970s.

Fort San Antonio Abad is rather small compared to other forts like Fort Pilar in Zamboanga and the Cotta Fort in Ozamiz. It is however, similar to Fort San Pedro which is another triangular structure. The current structure is actually empty and is used by the Central Bank for special occasions and events.Entry used to be via the backdoor of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila but has since been closed. You need an appointment with the Central Bank for entry.

Existing gun ports covered with grills from the outside in 1974

Existing gun ports covered with grills from the outside in 1974

Detail of the main entrance. The middle of the pediment bears the royal crest of Castilla & Leon. Below it is an inscription: 'Fuerte de San Antonio Abad,' left. Image of altar from the section of wall, right.

Detail of the main entrance. The middle of the pediment bears the royal crest of Castilla & Leon. Below it is an inscription: ‘Fuerte de San Antonio Abad,’ left. Image of altar from the section of wall, right.

Altar of San Antonio Abad (St. Anthony the Abbot) built between 1935-1940. Not sure why the image is headless.

Altar of San Antonio Abad (St. Anthony the Abbot) built between 1935-1940. Not sure why the image is headless.

Archival photo of Fort San Antonio Abad, 1899. Philippine Photographs Digital Archive, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Archival photo of Fort San Antonio Abad, 1899. Philippine Photographs Digital Archive, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Archival photo of Fort San Antonio Abad, 1899. Philippine Photographs Digital Archive, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Archival photo of Fort San Antonio Abad, 1899. Philippine Photographs Digital Archive, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Archival photo of Fort San Antonio Abad, 1899. Philippine Photographs Digital Archive, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Archival photo of Fort San Antonio Abad, 1899. Philippine Photographs Digital Archive, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

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