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 16th & 19th centuries. It 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. 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, which are 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. There used to be 7 churches within the Walled City of Manila but 5 of it were lost to World War II.
As 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 that have played significant roles not only in our faith but also in nation building.
San Agustin Church (Intramuros, Manila)
Built in 1859, it now stands as the oldest stone church in the Philippines. It was founded by the Augustinian Friars more than 400 years ago & is dedicated to Nuestra Senora dela Consolacion y Cirrea.
Manila Cathedral (Intramuros, Manila)
Dedicated to the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The Manila Cathedral also serves as the See of the Archbishop of Manila. Originally built in nipa, wood & bamboo in 1571, it was raised as a stone church in 1592.
San Sebastian Church (Quiapo, Manila)
A basilica dedicated to San Sebastian, it was completed in 1891 under the care of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, who also manages San Sebastian College. Acclaimed to be the only all-steel church in Asia done in Gothic Revival architectural style. 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. It was established in 1574 as nipa church by the Franciscan Missionaries. The Feast of the Black Nazarene every Jan 9 is the biggest religious festival in the Philippines.
Binondo Church (Binondo, Manila)
The church in Binondo is one of the significant heritage churches in Manila. It was built by the Dominican Order in 1596 to serve the Chinese community. It is dedicated to San Lorenzo Ruiz, the 1st Filipino saint & the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.
Ermita Church (Ermita, Manila)
Not many people know that one of the heritage churches in Manila stands amidst the city’s red light district. Established as a chapel in 1606, it only became a stone church in 1810 after series of fires that raged the original nipa & wood structure. It is dedicated to Nuestra Senora de Guia, the oldest Marian image in the Philippines.
Malate Church (Malate, Manila)
The church in Malate is dedicated to Nuestra Senora de los Remedios, the Patroness of Childbirth. It was founded in 1591 but its stone church was only completed in 1890.
Travel Directions to the Heritage Churches in Manila
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. Make your way to Quezon Avenue & take the connecting jeepneys. Alternatively, you may take LRT 2 & transfer to Quiapo.
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 the church is the quickest link to get inside Binondo. 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, you have to 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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