University Belt

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Map detailing schools and roads of U-Belt

To read the article in Filipino, go to University Belt.

The University Belt, or U-Belt, is the moniker given to the city of Manila's neighboring Sampaloc, Quiapo and San Miguel districts due to the high density of colleges and universities found in the area. The U-Belt is also regarded as a historical block, with schools and houses dating to the Spanish occupation still standing on the area.



The original University Belt stretches along the southern tip of España Boulevard, Nicanor Reyes St. (formerly Morayta St.), the eastern end of Claro M. Recto Avenue (formerly Calle Azcarraga), Legarda Avenue, Mendiola Street, and some of the secondary roads and side streets. All of the schools are within walking distance from each other.

Some people extend the “belt” to include the density of educational institutions found across the Pasig River. This area includes the stretch of schools found in Taft Avenue and Intramuros. Fair enough, as the irregular crescent shape the line of schools form give more sense to the nickname.

Universities and colleges

University belt including Taft Ave. and Intramuros

There are 18 schools (36 if the ones from Taft Avenue and Intramuros are counted) which comprise the university belt. The universities and colleges found in the area north of Pasig River are as follows:

Crossing the Pasig River one will then encounter the following schools:

The schools found in the Intramuros district are as follows:

Trade and commerce

Recto's busy sidewalks are populated with second-hand bookstores and computer shops

Because of the abundance of schools and students, the area's commerce is mostly dictated by the needs of the aforementioned crowd. The University Belt has become a hotspot for bookstores, school supply stores, and computer shops. Most of these outlets also offer student services such as photocopying, binding, and lamination. Competition is at the highest, so low prices are a common offer among the establishments.

There are notable places, however, that have expanded their commercial importance not only to the University Belt's students but to the general public. The popularity of districts such as Claro M. Recto Avenue, which is a haven for both used and brand new books, and nearby Bambang Street, a known medical supplies capital, have already reached the consciousness of the general public, that people from all parts of the city visit the area to purchase products.

Dormitories are also quite plentiful in the location in order to accommodate students coming in from the far locations. And as with any area with high consumer density, there are quite a number of fastfood and restaurants situated in the area. There are also a lot of good student canteens which offer students home-cooked meals at reasonable prices.


Manila's University Belt also features several heritage sites. There is the oldest university in the country, the University of Sto. Tomas. Moreover, antique structures like the 101-year-old Gota de Leche building, as well as several ancestral homes of personalities such as businessman Jose Maria Basa and former senator Eva Estrada-Kalaw can be found in the area. Currently little attention has been directed to the heritage aspect of the U-Belt, but there have been recent efforts from the local government, some private individuals, and even local residents to restore the area to its former glory.


  • Perez, Randolph (2007). "Para Po!: U-belt." Accessed on May 12, 2008.
  • Santos, Tina (2008). "Manila’s U-Belt site of heritage conservation." Accessed on May 12, 2008.
  • "Manila City Guide." Accessed on May 12, 2008.



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