If you want to leisurely explore Manila and have enough time to walk around architectural structures that date back to the Spanish colonial period, visit Intramuros and Fort Santiago. Another site to visit is the University of Santo Tomas, which is located along Manila's university belt in the area of Espaňa in Sampaloc. Finding this university is quite easy as it is located along one of Manila's national highways.

History of the University of Santo Tomas

The University of Sto. Tomas is one of the world's biggest Catholic universities in terms of its huge student population. As a private Roman Catholic university, it is primarily run by Manila's Order of Preachers. The University of Santo Tomas date back in the 1600s. It was founded by the Spanish Reverend Miguel de Benavides on April 28, 1611. The university has the oldest extant charter in the country and is also known as the largest university in the city of Manila.

The University of Sto. Tomas was originally located within the walls of Intramuros. As its student population continues to increase, its location became inadequate and it was then on transferred to the district of Sampaloc in Manila in 1927. Today, its old location in Intramuros is home to the BF Condominium. With its relatively new campus, the University of Sto. Tomas now comprises over 220,000 square meters. Its sprawling buildings still echo the structural designs of the Spanish period such as the 'Arch of the Centuries and Main Building Façade. Leisurely walking around the campus can take you back to this period.

The University of Santo Tomas also has plans on adding new campuses around the Philippines to address its growing student population as well to celebrate its 400th founding anniversary in 2011. New campuses will be added in Sta. Rosa in the province of Laguna and General Santos City in South Cotabato province in the southern part of the Philippines. It also plans to open a University of Sto. Tomas branch in Negombo, Sri Lanka. The developments of these campuses are still ongoing and are targeted to open and be operational by 2011. The new campuses of the University of Sto. Tomas in the Philippines will be bigger than its main campus. The campus in Laguna will occupy over 440,000 square meters and the one in General Santos City will spread out over 800,000 square meters. The planned campus in Sri Lanka will be the smallest at just 50,000 square meters.

University of Santo Tomas: A Center for Academic Excellence

The university is composed of various autonomous colleges, faculties, institutes and schools. Each of the University of Santo Tomas' numerous divisions award undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, together with basic education units. Some of the degrees it awards are also accredited as Centers of Excellence and Development by the Philippines' Commission on Higher Education. A visit to the University of Sto. Tomas will surely add to your knowledge and photographic collection of interesting architectural and historical structures that are found in Manila, as the university has also produced prominent figures which include Filipino heroes, presidents and saints.