According to my friend Wiki, “A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert,monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance.”
Following are the four baroque churches which have great significance not only to the faithful but to the Philippines as a whole:
1. San Agustin Church inside the Intramuros, Manila
I have been to this church during college but I didn’t know that this is a UNESCO WHS until I started blogging and researching about my travels. For those living in Manila and the surrounding province, this is the easiest church to visit. This church is the only remaining structure in Intramuros after the WWII because it is the site of Red Cross. The Americans spared this church because a lot of American soldiers are inside.
Photo by Jun Acullador
If you want to know some amazing facts about Intramuros you can check out 10 New Learnings in Intramuros
2. Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church found in Miag-ao, Iloilo
I was stunned when I saw this church back in 2009 during my Backpacking Western Visayas Challenge. It was grand- the huge front door, the belfries, the buttresses. This is what they call the “Fortress Baroque” as this used to be a fortress against the invading Muslims during the slave raids in the 19th century.
What I like about this church is the “Pinoy” frontage because you will see a uniquely carved banana and papaya trees on its façade.
If you are interested to know more about the Fortress Churches and the Muslim Raids, I highly recommend reading Langyaw.com’s post: TEA + SULU = MIAG-AO CHURCH
3. San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte
They call this an “Earthquake Baroque.” According to UNESCO, “Fourteen buttresses are ranged along the lines of a giant volute supporting a smaller one and surmounted by pyramidal finials. A pair of buttresses at the midpoint of each nave wall have stairways for access to the roof. The lower part of the apse and most of the walls are constructed of coral stone blocks, the upper levels being finished in brick, but this order is reversed on the facade. The massive coral stone bell tower, which was added half a century after the church was completed, stands at some distance from the church, again as a protection against damage during earthquakes.”
As of this writing the church is being renovated and I’m glad to see it without the scaffolding around it.
4. Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion erected at Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur
Another cultural gem of the Ylocanos is the Santa Maria Church. Perched on top of the hill because of the pirate attacks during the 19th century.
I visited this during my 100 Days challenge to complete my list of 4 UNESCO-stamped churches. I also explored the church and its surrounding area.
I have seen the ruins of Campo Santo on the east. I would imagine that in the Spanish times everyone wants his/her remains to be buried here but now every niche is being opened to be transferred to the new cemetery.
The twin chapel ruins, on the church’s west which is now the Sta. Maria East Elementary School which is the original site of the church. It is a twin chapel but only one chapel can be seen because the other one collapsed because its too old. It is now being used as a classroom.
I met Sir Joy Lord Calpito, the history teacher of the school and I asked him about the ruins of the chapel and the story of why it was transferred to the hill above. According to his story, the Mama Mary’s image inside the chapel was lost and when people looked they saw it on that same hill where the church is now erected. The image was found on the guava tree. This explains embossed artwork you can see on the right wall of the church.
According to Estan, the church was transferred on top of the hill because of the Moro raids during the 19th century.
How about you? How many have you visited among these 4 so far?
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Finishing the list was the Sta. Maria Church in Ilocos Sur. I visited it during Days 8 of ISANG DAAN Journey. Thanks to Sir Joy Lord and Madame Sheree of Sta. Maris East ES for providing important informations regarding the church. Thanks also for the snacks you provided to the weary traveler.
#ISANGDAAN is a personal journey and challenge to backpack around the Philippines the cheapest way possible for 100 days.
If you want to follow my steps, I have an interactive map- ISANGDAAN Journey map.