Heritage Series: El Deposito

January 30, 2024

Join us as we explore the historic Spanish-era water reservoir in San Juan City called El Deposito.

El Deposito (translated as “The Deposit” in English) is a Spanish-era underground water reservoir located in San Juan City, Metro Manila. As someone who loves visiting historical places, I consider the public unveiling of El Deposito as one of the most awaited events of 2020. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the quarantine restrictions, the reopening of El Deposito was postponed until 2021. I quite forgot about my initial plan to visit El Deposito but as luck would have it, a trip to Pinaglabanan Shine where it was located, was included in Miguel’s educational tour itinerary in 2023.

Heritage Series: El Deposito

Heritage Series: El Deposito

    A little bit of history

    El Deposito was built to store and provide water to residents of Intramuros and its adjacent areas. It consisted of chambers where water was kept fresh and potable. 

    A model of the Carriedo Fountain in Museo El Deposito
    A model of the Carriedo Fountain in Museo El Deposito

    It completed in was part of the Carriedo Waterworks and was completed in 1882 because of a generous donation from Francisco Carriedo, a military officer, politician, and philanthropist who made his fortune in the galleon trade. 

    As a philanthropist, his donation was intended to benefit the poor, who had no access to clean drinking water during that time, as well as religious organizations. While Carriedo did not live to see the completion of El Deposito and the Carriedo Waterworks, he left a legacy that lived for more than a century.

    El Deposito sourced water from the Marikina River and supplied water to houses, hydrants, and fountains in Manila.

    Old hydrant in Museo El Deposito
    Old hydrant

    El Deposito was part of the historic Battle of San Juan del Monte in which the Katipuneros led by Andres Bonifacio attempted to seize the reservoir and cripple the water supply in Manila. Throughout history, El Deposito was used for different purposes other than as a water reservoir.

    Seemingly forgotten by time, the UP Archeological Studies, the National Historical Commission, and the local government of San Juan City exerted efforts to excavate, clean, and rehabilitate El Deposito for its eventual opening as a historic tourist attraction within Pinaglabanan Shrine.

    Our experience at El Deposito

    To better appreciate El Deposito and its significance in Philippine history, you have to know its full story. As such, during Miguel’s education tour, we visited Museo El Deposito first where there are photos of the old waterworks system of Manila. There were also artifacts of hydrants and water containers, as well as photos depicting life in old Manila that provided a glimpse of what it was like to live during those days.

    El Deposito entrance

    After our tour of Museo El Deposito, we went down to the underground chamber. The steps leading to the reservoir were wide but as we went down, the space narrowed down. The stone walls were imposing, and the ceiling was high, but it was dimly lit.

    Exploring the chambers of El Deposito

    If not for the other people who were with us at that time, I would’ve felt claustrophobic because of the dark and eerie underground hall. Just the same, I was in awe as we walked inside the main chamber, and I imagined the water that filled the smaller compartments. I thought it was also a great engineering feat to be able to build such an intricate water system and operate it without the use of modern machines.

    Family photo at El Deposito

    It took us around 20 minutes to explore El Deposito, picture-taking included. All in all, it was an unforgettable and educational experience for us to explore such a historic location.

    Other important information

    Is it safe for children to visit El Deposito?

    Yes, it's safe for children to visit the El Deposito chambers. However, you may want to bring a face mask with you because, as the guard at the entrance cautioned, there is a probability that there are some gases trapped inside the chambers that may either have an off smell or might cause slight dizziness. We didn't experience anything adverse though.

    What is the opening and closing hours of El Deposito?

    Museo El Deposito is open from 9AM to 4PM every day except Monday.

    What do I need to bring when I visit El Deposito?

    You might want to bring extra shirts and a bottle of drinking water in case you and your children get sweaty and thirsty. Also, wear comfortable footwear during your visit to El Deposito.

    El Deposito travel guide

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    1. Thank you for sharing this very informative blog. such a wonderful historical place to visit with the family.

    2. Isa ito sa mga yaman na buhay at maipagmamalaki natin till now