Heritage Churches in Manila | Art & Faith, Pretty & Holy
The heritage churches in Manila, among the hundreds more spread across the country, tell the story of Spain’s 300-year conquest between the 16th & 19th centuries. This created the Philippines a home to about 76 million Roman Catholics of about 2 billion there are in the world.
Being the largest catholic country in all of Asia, nowhere else is the passion of Christ more piously commemorated than here. In fact, Visita Iglesia or the act of retracing the “via crucis” through a spiritual pilgrimage is one of the highlight devotional activities during the Holy Week.
Art & Faith | Via crucis & heritage churches in Manila
Traditionally, the pilgrimage goes through 7 churches associated with the Seven Last Words & Seven Holy Wounds. During the Spanish time, the bastion of Catholic evangelization & nucleus of colonial governance was in Intramuros. Seven churches once stood within the Walled City of Manila but 5 of it were lost to World War II.
While we make our penitential prayers in this time of Lent, it may also be a good time to know some of the remaining & contiguous Spanish heritage churches in Manila. After all, they played significant roles not only in our faith but also in nation building.
San Agustin Church (Intramuros, Manila)
Built in 1859, the San Agustin Church now stands as the oldest stone church in the Philippines. Founded more than 400 years ago, the Augustinian Friars dedicates it to Nuestra Senora dela Consolacion y Cirrea.
Manila Cathedral (Intramuros, Manila)
Nearby is the Manila Cathedral dedicated to the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Also, it serves as the See of the Archbishop of Manila. Originally built in 1571 in nipa, wood as well as bamboo, it was raised as a stone church in 1592.
San Sebastian Church (Quiapo, Manila)
A basilica dedicated to San Sebastian, the church reached its completion in 1891 under the care of the Order of Augustinian Recollects. Acclaimed to be the only all-steel church in Asia & done in Gothic Revival architectural style. In addition, its parts were constructed in Belgium & assembled in the Philippines.
St. John the Baptist Parish (Quiapo, Manila)
The Minor Basilica of Jesus the Black Nazarene is also known as the Quiapo Church. The Franciscan Missionaries established it in 1574 as a nipa church. Moreover, the feast of the Black Nazarene staged every Jan 9 is the biggest religious festival in the Philippines.
Binondo Church (Binondo, Manila)
To serve the Chinese community in Binondo, the Dominican Order built the church in 1596. It stood as one of the significant heritage churches in Manila in 16th century. It honours San Lorenzo Ruiz, the 1st Filipino saint as well as the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.
Ermita Church (Ermita, Manila)
Not many people know that one of the heritage churches in Manila exists amidst the city’s red light district. Established as a chapel in 1606, it became a stone church in 1810 after series of fires raged the original nipa & wood structure. Likewise, it enshrines Nuestra Senora de Guia, the oldest Marian image in the Philippines.
Malate Church (Malate, Manila)
Moreover, the church in Malate dedicated to Nuestra Senora de los Remedios is the revered Patroness of Childbirth. Built in 1591, but its stone church only completed in 1890.
Travel Directions to the Heritage Churches in Manila
NOTE: For 2020, stick with virtual visits due to Covid-19 health quarantine
If you are coming from the north of Greater Manila Area (Quezon City, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Valenzuela, Caloocan, etc), it is best to begin in the churches within Quiapo area. Then make your way to Quezon Avenue & take the connecting jeepneys. Alternatively, you may take LRT 2 & transfer to Quiapo.
Furthermore, from Quiapo Church, you may walk straight to the opposite direction (towards Carriedo LRT 1 Station) to reach Sta. Cruz where you’ll find Sta. Cruz Church. Across is the fastest link to get inside Binondo. Finally, find your way to the plaza & just across it is Binondo Church.
From here, you may already take a jeepney to bring you to Intramuros area. Going out, take the exit towards Manila City Hall to connect to jeepneys going to Taft. Get off at Faura or Pedro Gil to reach Ermita & Malate churches.
If you are coming from the south of Greater Manila Area (Makati, Pasay, Muntinlupa, etc), the best way is to take the LRT. Once you are in Taft Avenue, all the jeepneys ply along the church routes suggested here.
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