The Philippines is known to be the only country in Asia that is predominantly Christian. Ever since the Spanish set foot in the country in the 15th century, almost half of the Philippine population has been Roman Catholic and other Christian denominations such as Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), Born-Again Christians, Baptists, Protestants, Mormons and many more.
Because of this, countless churches and cathedrals that date back to the Spanish colonial era can be seen in various parts of the country. These churches not only represent the Catholic Church but also embody a sense of magnificence and splendor due to their intricate architecture, sturdy foundation and idyllic atmosphere.
Today, Lamudi presents five of the oldest and most beautiful churches in the country:
1. QUIAPO CHURCH
Quiapo Church, also known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or the Parish of Saint John the Baptist, is famous for being home to the venerated Black Nazarene – a life sized statue of Jesus Christ that is said to have miraculous powers. Located in the City of Manila, this church is also one of the oldest churches in the Philippines since it was built in 1586 using only bamboo and nipa palm as the church’s materials.
It was burnt and repaired several times until Fr. Magdaleno Castillo ordered Filipino artist Juan Nakpil to reconstruct the church in 1933. The church can easily be accessed using public transport. It is surrounded by major establishments and institutions.
2. SANTO NINO BASILICA
Located in the Seat of Christianity in the Philippines (Cebu), the Santo Nino Basilica is considered to be the oldest church that was built in the country. It is believed that the basilica was built on the spot where a statue of Santo Nino de Cebu was found by a Spanish soldier in 1565 preserved in a wooden box. Just like Quiapo Church, the Santo Nino Basilica was also built from indigenous materials such as hardwood, nipa and earth. It was also burnt down several times until its final reconstruction ordered by Spanish governor Fernando Valdes Y
Tamon in 1735. This time, the church was built using hard stone and bricks for a strong and steady foundation. A convent and library were soon built in 1764.
3. BAGUIO CATHEDRAL
The Baguio Cathedral – officially known as the Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral – is located at the center of Baguio City, adjacent to Session Road. The church, which was built in about 1920 and completed in 1936 has a distinct architecture and features a pink façade, stained glass windows and twin spires. Because of its unique look and viable location, it has become one of Baguio’s most popular tourists attractions.
4. SAN AGUSTIN CHURCH
Nestled inside the Walled City, Intramuros, the San Agustin Church was constructed in 1589 and administered by Augustinian missionaries at that time. It is the oldest stone church in the Philippines and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its history and breathtaking architecture. The church has a baroque architecture complemented by a grand pipe organ, huge chandeliers from Paris, three dimensional carvings and trompe l’oeil paintings done by Spanish artists. The church is also considered as the “Wedding Capital of the Philippines” due its romantic atmosphere.
5. MANILA CATHEDRAL
Known as the Mother of All Churches and the Seat of the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, the Manila Cathedral stands in Plaza de Roma at Intramuros. It was built in 1579. Just like other churches and parishes in the country, Manila Cathedral was also damaged several times due to fire and bombings.