Simple roofs in general use with a double slope are the " coupled rafter roofs," the rafters meeting at the highest point upon a horizontal ridge-piece which stiffens the framework and gives a level ridge-line.
The public buildings include the cathedral (1760), the government palace, the municipal palace, the episcopal palace, the church of Santa Ana, a national theatre, a school of arts and trades, a foreign hospital, the former administration building of the Canal Company, Santo Tomas Hospital, the pesthouse of Punta Mala and various asylums. The houses are mostly of stone, with red tile roofs, two or three storeys high, built in the Spanish style around central patios, or courts, and with balconies projecting far over the narrow streets; in such houses the lowest floor is often rented to a poorer family.
The advantage claimed for roofs formed with one or two large spans is that they permit the platforms and tracks to be readily rearranged at any time as required, whereas this is difficult with the other type, especially since the British Board of Trade requires the pillars to be not less than 6 ft.
The houses, mostly white with coloured roofs, are generally built of wood and iron, and have glazed porches, gay with fuchsias and pelargoniums. Government House, grey, stone-built and slated, calls to mind a manse in Shetland or Orkney.
Few crowded neighbourhoods are visible, and the characteristic features of the scene which meets the eye are the upturned roofs of temples, palaces, and mansions, gay with blue, green and yellow glazed tiles, glittering among the groves of trees with which the city abounds.