Manila’s colonial legacy means that some of the city’s best preserved buildings share a common religious theme. Ultimately though, whether you’re religious or not, the Catholic Church plays a key role in Manila’s history and their churches should be part of your journey to explore the full extent of the Filipino capital.
Here’s four of the finest Manila has to offer:
Binondo Church has undergone quite the ordeal since being founded in 1596. Destroyed by aerial bombardment in the British occupation of 1762, it was painstakingly reconstructed on the same site in 1852 – only to be flattened again during WWII!
The church is therefore representative of more than just religious belief – its constant regeneration and presence throughout multiple conflicts mark it out as a symbol of old traditions and modern Manila. The beautifully finished (and miraculously unscathed) ceiling frescoes are therefore just a welcome bonus!
Quiapo Church’s location in the heart of Manila makes it a natural focal point for tourists exploring Manila for the first time. As was the case with Binondo, the church’s involvement in the country’s conflict has seen it undergo numerous rebuilds – the dome and façade are all that’s left of the original Baroque style building
Chief amongst the church’s artifacts and attractions is the Black Nazarine – an image of Jesus brought to the Philippines in the 17th century that’s rumoured to have miraculous healing powers.
The beautiful San Agustin Church bucks against an established trend for churches in Manila, and has thankfully remained almost unscathed throughout its existence! As a result, it retains UNESCO World Heritage status, and is one of only four churches in the Philippines to hold this accolade.
Chief amongst the church’s design highlights are an intricately designed baroque pulpit and stunning trompe l’oeil murals.
Founded by Friar Diego Cera, Las Pinas Church is home to the world-famous Las Pinas bamboo organ, which is a certified national treasure and the largest of its kind found anywhere in the world.
The construction of the church’s organ is a throwback to the bamboo construction of the temporary building erected on the site of the current stone building (which wasn’t finished until 1813).
The current version of the organ was restored and revived in 1975 (after three years of rehabilitation in Bonn, Germany) and made its concert debut on May 9th of the same year.
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