Classic bridges of Manila that we wish we have today

By Gillian Gacuma | Resources: Rafael Minuesa and Robert S. Gardner

MANILA– Flyovers, bridges and soon, double-deck elevated highways are ordinary sights in today’s metropolis. Crisscrossing our roads and connecting districts with its pale grey cement and metal railing look, passing through it will be at the cost of just cutting travel time. 

However, back in the day, bridges are symbols of progress in engineering and influence here. Its also an art piece for many. In mid 16th century, old Manila has become one of the most progressive trade hubs in Asia and marine traffic in the bay increased heavily during the second half of the 19th century.

It was at this time that the construction of bridges to connect the sprawling new center for commerce began.

#1 Puente Grande

Puente Grande with wooden superstructure spanning Pasig river as sketched in 1794 by Fernando Brambila, a member of the Malaspina Expedition.

The first bridge that crossed Pasig River connecting Intramuros and the thriving business area of Binondo in 1630, making the transfer safer and easier than the existing ferry service that time. The Treasury was saved with the expenses as its cost was shouldered by Sangleys (Chinese).

The Puente Grande, was also called the Puente de Piedra (Stone Bridge) after the wooden superstructure was replaced with stone arches in 1814.
An artist illustration of the refurbished Puente Grande, back dropped by Santo Domingo Church, Intramuros.

#2 Puente de España and 1930s Jones Bridge

After the 1863 earthquake, a new bridge replaced Puente Grande in 1875. It had eight arches – the two middle ones were built of iron – and was named Puente de España or Bridge of Spain. Its metallic parts of the bridge were imported from France, organized by José Echeverría.

After floods damaged Puente de España in September 1914, the American Colonial Government began the construction of a replacement bridge in 1916, one block downriver from the original location. It was named Jones Bridge after former Virginia Rep. William Atkinson Jones, who was the principal author of the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916.

The three span Jones Bridge featuring two statues, La Madre Filipina on each side.
Clip from a documentary in 1930 shows a closer look on the designs of Jones Bridge.

The neoclassical design bridge by Filipino Architect Juan M. Arellano, features an ornate concrete arch bridge, wider entrances that were bordered by pillars topped with a series of statues. The new bridge were also able to accommodate 4 lanes of traffic and one line assigned for the Tranvia or modern day tram.   

However the bridge was destroyed by the bombs of World War II.


#3 Puente Colgante (known as Puente de Claveria in 1870s) or present day Quezon Bridge

Literally means “hanging bridge” in Spanish, Puente Colgante was the first and steel suspension bridge built in East Asia after it was finished in 1852. Designed by Spanish Basque Engineer Matias Menchatorre, it measured 110 meters long and 7 meters wide. It had two lanes that allowed passage to animal-driven carriages and pedestrians between Quiapo and Intramuros.

It was a landmark on the urban landscape of Manila; it linked Quiapo with the Arroceros district and was opened to the public in 1852

Puente de Claveria - Puente Colgante



The bridge was later replaced by Quezon Bridge in 1930s.



Puente de Ayala in 1898.

ViajeroMNL (Viajero Manila) is a lifestyle blog site that features different pop culture, travel, and food destinations in the Philippines. This article was written by Gillian Gacuma. 


3 Comments Add yours

  1. rscotttyler says:

    Great post, love the historical perspective and the pictures.


    1. GillianGacuma says:

      Thanks, Bob! It’s my pleasure that you liked it.


  2. Khristian says:

    sayang sana mabalik yung mga tulay na yan


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