Casa Manila looks like a typical mansion of the upper class in colonial 19th century Philippines. It was built from 1981 to 1983 following the design of a house that once stood along Jaboneros St. in the Chinese district of Binondo in the 1850s.
The ground floor walls of such houses were made of adobe or volcanic tuff, which was the main building material from the late 16th to 19th century. It’s the same substance that makes up the walls of Intramuros. Second levels extended over the ground floors and served as living quarters. Its design made it resilient against earthquakes.
In 19th century Binondo, residents lived in the second level of their house and turned the first floor into shops. So it is with Casa Manila, which now serves as a memorial of what was once a way of life in the Philippines under Spanish rule.
The Casa Manila interior with its painted walls, carved traceries, crystal chandeliers, Chinese ceramics, and gilded furniture depicts the opulence of the Spanish era. It is furnished with local and imported antique pieces from the Intramuros Administration Museum Collection.
Casa Manila forms part of the Plaza San Luis Complex, a neighborhood made up of nine period houses constructed in the 1980s. They feature the various architectural styles of homes in colonial Philippines.