The first communities to settle in Manila area were some Tagalog tribes. They chose the banks of Pasig river to establish their colony and they named it : Maynilad. "May" means " there is" and "Nilad" is a mangrove plant. The city became a trade center where Filipinos exchanged their goods with Chinese, Japanese or Malay merchants.
40 years after Magellan landed in the Philippines, a conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi defeated the ruler of Maynilad, Rajah Soliman and eventually founded the city of Manila. On June 24, 1571 the city is declared as the capital of the Spanish colony of the Philippines and King Felipe II honored Manila with the title "Insigne y siempre leal ciudad" (Distinguished and ever loyal city.)
The Spanish built Intramuros, a walled city where they lived and worked. Inside a 4.5 kilometer-long wall, one can found ancestral houses, palaces, administrations, hospitals, schools and 12 churches with San Augustin church being the first one to be built. Manila is protected by Fort Santiago at the mouth of Pasig river. The harbor is located further south in Cavite where the galleons transported goods to Acapulco, Mexico. While the Spanish and the Meztizos lived in Intramuros, the Chinese and the Filipinos lived around the Intramuros walls, especially on the north bank of the river in some districts like Quiapo, Sta. Cruz, Binondo, and Tondo.
Manila is attacked several times by pirates or even by the British in 1762 who occupied the city for almost 2 years. Manila expanded during the American time (1898-1946).
The Japanese conquered Manila in January 1942 but they were driven away by the Filipino and American troops on February 1945 during the battle of Manila. The battle heavily damaged the city and around 150000 people died during the month long siege.
In 1948, the nation's capital was transferred to Quezon City while the business center was relocated to Makati. In 1975, Manila, Quezon City, Makati and 14 other towns were unified as Metro Manila.
The city continues to expand. The Greater Manila or Mega Manila today belongs to the top 5 most populated conglomeration in the word and is an amazing town to visit with TRIPinas travel and tour.
Old map of Manila (Spanish Time)