Thursday, January 29, 2015

San Agustin Church - Philippines' Oldest Church (Intramuros, Manila)

Situated in the heart of walled Intramuros is the Philippines' oldest church, the only building left intact in Intramuros after the destruction caused by World War II. Construction began 1587 and took 19 years to complete (Manila Cathedral was erected in 1951). The church is run by the Augustinian friars and the present structure is the 3rd to rise on the same site after it has weathered several earthquakes and wars. It has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

This photo only courtesy of wikipedia.
The church is home to the remains of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (the first governor-general of the Spanish regime in the Philippines), Juan de Salcedo and Martin de Goiti (both were Spanish conquistadors who in 1567 led an army of 900 to conquer then-Islamic Manila, under the occupation of the Sultanate of Brunei).

At the contiguous building to its left is a museum which houses fascinating ecclesiastical and historical relics, as well as devotional images that underline the devout religiosity of the Filipinos.

Another note-worthy feature of the church is the intricate trompe l'oueil frescoes on the vaulted ceilings. Trompe L'Oueil is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Photography isn't allowed inside the church, and one can enter the church when there's mass. The museum, on the other hand, has an entry fee of PhP100 per person. Photos from this post were mostly taken from the museum, though the heart of the whole complex is the grandiose church. The museum is open daily between 8AM to 12 noon and 1PM to 6PM. 

If you're baffled to find "fu dragons" or Buddhist/Taoist figures on display at the gates of the surroundings, these are relics influenced by the Chinese artistry of the masons and artisans who helped build Intramuros and the colonial establishments of Manila during those bygone days of strife.

These days, the church is busy hosting weddings. In fact it prides itself as the "Wedding Capital of the Philippines", and for a good reason. After all, it is already 428 years old, and much of its old world grandeur is preserved within its walls. Wouldn't it be such a romantic idea to become a part of its 428 year legacy?

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Trompe l'oueil frescoes at the church's ceiling.

For more information, visit their website @ The church is located a couple of blocks at the back of Manila Cathedral, along General Luna Street in Intramuros. Call them at  +632-527-2746 or +632-5274052.


Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello, greetings.

Fabulous photos of the fantastic church. Each photo tells a story. Very interesting information about the church.

This church reminded me of Bom Jesus Basilica and Se Cathedral in Goa In India. Please google for first hand information.

Best wishes

eye in the sky said...

Hi Joseph,

I'll look them up. thanks for the information. I wish I've visited Goa though. It's one of the places I missed in India.

Ramakrishnan said...

Wow ! Grand & splendid,opulent & ostentatious and so beautiful !

eye in the sky said...

Thanks, Ram. You do have a way with words. :)

Unknown said...

San Agustin Church is ideal for traditional and grand weddings as couples and guests are transported back in time admiring its architecture, making it the wedding capital of the Philippines…

Such a lovely church we have in our country. :)

eye in the sky said...

Can't agree with you more. It's elegant and has this old-world atmosphere making a wedding a sophisticated, albeit solemn affair. :)