Government and Administration
Large civil buildings such as the "Palacio de Gobierno", the "Ayuntamiento"
and the "Aduana" represented the government institutions of the Spanish
Administration. The Philippines formed part of the administrative system
adopted by the Spanish Crown for its overseas territories. From the
16th century, these islands were an enclave which was controlled by the
"virreinato" of New Spain. They had a Governor who was also
Captain General of the archipelago. Manila was the seat of central
government and the municipal districts were organized in accordance with the
The most representative building of all the
government institutions was the "Palacio de Gobierno", known also as the
"Casas Reales" (royal houses), the "Audiencia" or "palacio de la Capitanía
General"; this occupied a whole block on one of the sides of the "plaza
mayor". It underwent several transformations and reconstruction works
and as from 1845 its main façade, built in the European style, contrasted
sharply with all the rest which reflected the Philippine style at its purest:
overhanging verandahs with "capiz shell" windows. It was destroyed in the 1863
Opposite the "Palacio de Gobierno" was the "Cabildo
building" (town council) or "Casas de la Ciudad"; this was rebuilt in
1751, and with its series of arches at ground level is an example of the
European type of urban municipal building, with clear Italian and Spanish
architectural influences; it occupied another side of the "plaza mayor".
It underwent several refurbishment works and after being destroyed in the
19th century a new building was constructed, but today only some of its
Later on, the "Aduana" and "Hacienda pública"
(Treasury) became more prominent in the city when a specific building was
erected for their use: this had twin patios, was solidly built and very imposing
in a purely academic way, and was situated right by the edge of the north wall
of the city and beside the river.
The royal houses are most beautiful and have a great many windows
facing the sea, and are built on the main square out of stone and with two
patios, with upper and lower corridors and with stout pillars. The town council
buildings are made of stone; their lower part houses the prison, the "audiencia"
and the ordinary mayors.
Antonio de Morga 1600
|The "Ayuntamiento" in Manila. Eduardo López Navarro
in Colección de planos... 1876. BETSICCP, Madrid This is an example of
an urban palace in the European style. It follows the Bramante model used
for constructing the house of Raphael in Borgo Vaticano in its upper
storey, while its ground floor and patio follow the model laid down for
the Farnese Palace, which was the finest example of palaces in 16th
||Governor's Palace. Vicente Serrano Salaverri in
Colección de planos correspondientes a varias de las construcciones
realizadas o proyectadas por la Inspección General de Obras Públicas de
las Islas Filipinas. 1876. BETSICCP, Madrid The main façade of the
Palace was rebuilt in 1845 in the European style, with dressed stone
ground floor structure and an attic; all other façades had overhanging
balconies closed off with "capiz" shell window panes in the typical
|Main façade of the old "Aduana" building built in
Manila. Tomás Cortés. 1828. SHM This building was admired for the
beauty of its construction and its classic dimensions. Its upper part was
heavily built, and this was the reason behind its destruction in the 1863
earthquake. It was built once more in 1874.
||The "Ayuntamiento" in Manila. Eduardo López Navarro
in Colección de planos... 1876. BETSICCP, Madrid This splendid
building is an outstanding example of urban architecture, as can be seen
by the street-level arcades, which is where the "Plaza Mayor" becomes part
of the building itself, so that under their shade business contracts for
provisioning the city may be
|Royal Palace. Tomás Cortés. 1827. SHM When first
constructed, the Governor's palace housed the "Real Audiencia" on its main
floor. In 1793, when the building was in a bad state of repair, the "Real
Audiencia" moved to the adjoining block.
||Ground plan of the old "Aduana" building built in
Manila. Tomás Cortés. 1828. SHM Although its rectangular ground plan
with its two interior patios is reminiscent of the Court Prison, which is
today the Ministry ofr Foreign Affairs in Madrid, or the "Hospital de la
Cruz" in Toledo, this building represents an academic form, that of beaux
|Sketch of Malacañang Palace and its surroundings.
Gregorio Verdú. 1856. SHM Malacañang started off as a house made of
wood, situated on the banks of the Pasig River on the area of land bearing
the same name, which is situated in the San Miguel district. In 1802, it
was purchased from a private individual by an army colonel.
Ground plan of the Malacañang Palace. Luis del Rosario y Rivas. 1897.
AHN This palace was originally designed as a summer residence for governors.
After the 1863 earthquake, it was here that the governor took up permanent
residence. Thereafter, it underwent several modification works and
amplifications, which one after the other were influenced by the architectural
influences of the times, despite which it still maintained a characteristically
|Governor's Palace. Vicente Serrano Salaverri in
Colección de planos... 1876. BETSICCP, Madrid The ground plan of the
Palace housed the private chambers of the Governor, a number of government
offices such as those of the General Army Counting House and the
Secretariat for War and Government.
||Plan of the Manila Consulate. 19th century.
|Plan and sectional view of the Consulate. 19th
century. SHM This was a large building sited within Intramuros;
besides being the Consulate court of justice, it also housed the Nautical
Academy and the Business School.
||Summer residence of the captain general of the
Philippines. La Ilustración Española y Americana. 1874.
The Malacañang Palace. Luis
del Rosario y Rivas. 1897. AHN
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Discovering Philippines Copyright ©
2004 Robert S. Gardner