Built to defend Fort Santiago from attacks coming from Manila Bay, the Baluartillo de San Francisco Javier was lined with cannons protecting Fort Santiago and the mouth of the Pasig River before the Port Area of Manila Bay was reclaimed. The baluartillo also protected a postern, assumed to be the former Puerta de Banderas and whose exact location is now unknown, used by the Governor-General and his family until 1654 when the Palacio was still inside Fort Santiago.

A sketch of Baluartillo de San Francisco (image from Janice Dizon Collection), 1988.

After the original rampart was destroyed by the 1645 earthquake, San Francisco de Javier was built under the orders of Governor-General Sabiniano Manrique de Lara as a solid curtain wall.  Following the British occupation of Manila, the crescent-shaped baluartillo and its redoubt was constructed as part of the defensive improvements in Intramuros.

Baluartillo de San Fancisco Javier and its redoubt in front of it taken ca. 1930; note the presence of golfers where the moat used to be. Photo courtesy of John Tewell.

The bulwark was heavily destroyed during the 1945 Battle of Manila against the Japanese, along with other structures in Intramuros. It was eventually restored in the 1950s.

Baluartillo de San Francisco (restored) (taken by Benjamin A. Laxina), 1985. Courtesy of the Intramuros Administration Archives.

Today, the curtain wall of San Francisco Javier houses in its chambers several souvenir shops, food shops, and the Intramuros Visitors’ Center (IVC).

Present-day Baluartillo de San Francisco Javier (left) and the redoubt with its chapel (right). Courtesy of Intramuros Administration.

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