When in the Philipine capital, you should add these churches to your must-see list: Binondo Church, San Agustin Church, Quiapo Church and Las Piñas Church.
Manila inherited its well-preserved churches, along with its deep-seated Catholic faith, from 333 years under Spanish colonial rule. Whether you’re religious or not, Manila’s churches should be part of your journey to learn more about the full extent of the Catholic Church’s role in the country’s history.
Binondo Church has suffered damage from several calamities ever since it was founded in 1596. Destroyed by aerial bombardment in the British occupation of 1762, the church was rebuilt, only to be ruined again in the earthquake that struck Manila in 1863. It was painstakingly reconstructed on the same site in 1852 — only to be flattened again during World War II.
The church, with its beautiful (and miraculously unscathed) ceiling frescoes, therefore represents steadfast religious faith through multiple conflicts.
Quiapo Church’s location in the heart of the historical district of Manila makes it a natural focal point for tourists exploring the city for the first time. Like Binondo Church, Quiapo Church has also gone through numerous reconstructions — the dome and façade are all that remain of the original Baroque-style building.
The church houses the Black Nazarene — an image of Jesus brought to the Philippines in the 17th century that supposedly has miraculous healing powers.
San Agustin Church
The beautiful San Agustin Church, unlike most other churches in Manila, has thankfully remained almost unscathed throughout its existence. It is one of four Baroque churches in the Philippines with UNESCO World Heritage status.
Chief among the church’s design highlights are an intricately designed baroque pulpit and stunning trompe-l’oeil murals.
Las Piñas Church
Las Piñas Church, also known as Bamboo Organ Church, is home to the world-famous bamboo organ, a national treasure and the largest of its kind in the world.
The original church was also built out of bamboo and stood on the site of the current stone building, which was built between 1797 and 1819.
In 1972, the bamboo organ was sent to Bonn, Germany, where it underwent three years of restoration. It made its way back to Las Piñas Church in 1975, and had its concert debut on 9 May of the same year.