All around the Philippines, amazing centuries-old churches stand as silent witnesses to their town’s culture and history. Many of them have been declared national treasures, and therefore during Holy Week these places of worship will not only attract worshippers, but also visitors interested in the unique architecture and relics these churches have to offer.
Here, we have compiled a list of beautiful churches in Ilocos that will transport you back in time.
“Bacarra Church, Ilocos Norte”
One of the country’s most visited churches, it is known for its centuries-old “beheaded” belfry known as Torres di Bacarra. The Museo di Bacarra, a church museum located in the former convent, houses religious and cultural artifacts, as well as archival photos and documents.
“Sarrat Church, Ilocos Norte”
Built in 1779 and also known as San Miguel Church, Sarrat was declared an Important Cultural Property by the National Museum of the Philippines, in part due to the length of its nave, the largest in Ilocos Norte.
“Bantay Church, Ilocos Sur”
Actually called Saint Augustine Parish Church, the church is known for and named after its Bantay Tower. Established in 1590, it is one of the oldest churches in the region, accounting for the Neo-Gothic architecture featuring pseudo-Romanesque elements, reminiscent of Spanish architecture. Unfortunately, the church was damaged during World War II and had to be rebuilt in the 1950s.
“Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte”
Completed in 1710, the baroque church is a National Cultural Treasure as well as a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its three-story coral bell towers resemble a pagoda, and were built separate from the church for earthquake safety reasons. It’s hard not to get fascinated with this church because of its unique architectural style sometimes known as Earthquake Baroque – a reference to the fusion of European Baroque Architecture, Oriental architecture and earthquake-resistant design elements. Constructed from coral rocks and brick, the San Agustin Church was started by Agustinian friars in 1694. Unlike most other churches, however, the San Agustin Church draws attention not only to its façade but to the buttresses that extend out from the exterior side walls. The 24 massive buttresses are meant to absorb earthquake forces but have also uncannily contributed to the aesthetics of the structure.
“Santa Maria Church, Ilocos Sur”
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the church was built on a hill top to serve as a citadel, lookout and religious center for the friars and soldiers stationed here to administer the region during the Spanish colonial era. Also known as the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, this house of worship and its adjacent convent are surrounded by fortress-like walls, and is reached by way of an 85-step granite rock staircase.