Baroque Churches of the Philippines

Baroque Churches is the official designation on the four Spanish Colonial Churches in the Philippines. In 1993 four of the baroque churches in the Philippines were inscribed in the list of World Heritage of UNESCO, the San Agustin Church in Manila; The Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur; San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte; and Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miag-ao Iloilo.

The structure of the churches have been a significant event in the history of the Philippines, not just in expanding Christianity in the country as well as in serving as a political strength of the Spanish colonial rule. These churches serve not just a mere religious structure but also a fortress against the revolts and rebellions.

San Agustin Church. The San Agustin Church is located at the fortified city of Intramuros in Manila. Built in 1570, it is the first religious structure built in the island of Luzon, thus serves as a significant shrine to the Spanish colonization.

Built by Juan Macarias in 1586 and was completed in 1606 it was derived from the Augustinian churches in Mexico with consideration to the quality of local stone and weather conditions in the country.

In 1863 the church was destroyed by an earthquake and was renovated by Luciano Oliver in 1864. The facade follows the style of High Renaissance, a touch of Baroque by the richly carved wooden doors that depict floras and religious images. It is also the only colonial church that was able to maintain its original vaulting despite the destructive forces during World War II.

Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion. In 1982 this magnificent church was designated as historical landmark and was followed as one of the four baroque churches inscribed in the World Heritage list of UNESCO in 1993. Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion is on the edge of the hill overlooking the town of Sta. Maria in the province of Ilocos Sur. The church was built in 1765 by the Augustinians and served as a fortress during the Philippine Revolution in 1896.

The church has two huge pillars flank on the church facade. The exposed brickworks give the church a reddish exterior. Nearby the church is an octagonal tower consisting of stacked octagonal horizontal cross sections of decreasing diameter.

San Agustin Church in Paoay. In the town of Paoay, Ilocos Norte lays the Shrine of St. Augustine. This church is considered to be as one of the most unusual edifices in the country with its huge walls bordering the sides and back facade.

The San Agustin Church is considered be an earthquake-resistant church. The buttresses extended out considerably from the exterior walls which form a three dimensional visual effect and serves as a giant sentinels suspended to protect the church form adversaries. The walls of the church were mixture of coral stones and bricks. The facade is divided vertically by square columns that broaden from the ground and all the way to the top of the pediment. It is goes together with a bell tower located at its ride side.

A few metres away the church is the coral-stone bell, built farther ways to prevent damage to the church in case of natural disaster. It also serves as a observation post for katipuneros during the Philippine Revolution.

The exotic church was built by an Augustinian priest, Fr. Antonio Estavillo in 1694 and completed in 1710. The huge and powerful buttresses demonstrate its unique quality.

Sto. Tomas de la Villanueva. Located in the town of Miagao in the Province of Iloilo is one of the four baroque churches that the Philippine is truly proud of. Structured in 1787 under the supervision of the parish priest Fr. Francisco Gonzales and the town governorcillo Domingo Libo-on, to serve as a fortress against Moro raiders and was completed in 1797.

The adjoining towers, huge and unequal height gives the church a fortress structure. The facade are designed like retablo, within the portal is a niche containing St. Thomas. Its niche is connected to the first story through columns supporting a platform. Within the centre of the bas-relief facade is a large coconut tree that reaches the apex. The blending of the decorative styles of Classical, Baroque and Rococo is one of the characteristics of this architectural and religious gem of the country.


Baroque Churches of the Philippines
Date of Inscription: 1993
click to visit UNESCO page

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