Top 5 Historical Churches in the Philippines that Stand the Test of Time

Since the Spanish colonization era in the Philippines, various churches have risen nationwide. Though many of these churches have experienced their fair share of wear and tear, historical churches in the Philippines are still standing strong. 

 List of Historical Churches in the Philippines

Spain’s colonization of the Philippines spanned over three hundred years and had lasting effects on the country’s culture. Their influence is still evident today in Filipino tradition and structures. This article aims to explore a list of historic churches in the country due to Spanish colonization.

Parish Church of San Agustin of Intramuros

Parish Church of San Agustin of Intramuros

Located in Intramuros, this parish is known to be the oldest church in the Philippines, constructed with stone. Originally, the church was built on bamboo and nipa leaves in 1571. However, due to its weak structure, it was destroyed by typhoons and strong winds. In the year 1586, a resolution was made to build a church with a stronger structure using adobe stone. Large stone slabs were cut from quarries in various places like Guadalupe, Meycauyan, and San Mateo, Rizal.

Additionally, the parish’s design and structure were designed by architect Juan Marcias on the intersection of Calle Real and St. Lucia Street. From its construction in 1587, the church took several years to complete until 1607.

Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte

Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte

This historical church in Ilocos Norte was completed in 1710 and recognized as a National Cultural Treasure and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is popular for having twenty-four large buttresses on its sides and back. The church’s pyramid-like structure makes it so distinctive from other parishes in the country. Moreover, its architecture showcases the earthquake baroque style due to its thick walls made of coral stones and bricks. This style is popular among historical Philippine churches to minimize the effects of earthquakes.

Additionally, the church stood as an observation post by Katipuneros during the revolution by guerrilleros against the Japanese. It has seen its fair share of catastrophes in Philippine history, from surviving natural destruction like earthquakes and typhoons to serving as war headquarters for Filipinos.

See Also: Top 30 Most Beautiful Roman Catholic Churches of the Philippines

Parish Church of Saint Joseph of Baras, Rizal

Parish Church of Saint Joseph of Baras, Rizal

Another historical church in the Philippines is located in Baras, Rizal. Originally, it was built in 1595 by Franciscans after Aetas burned down the area as an act of rebellion. After the Aeta’s retribution, the town moved to Ibayo in 1636 but returned to its current location in 1682. 

The inside of the church has also been preserved with its original external structure. The interior boasts exposed wooden trusses supporting the parish’s roofing. However, the church is unlike other parishes that showcase decorated ceilings since these are not popular in the area. Visiting this church will surely make individuals feel like they are traveling back in time.

Bacarra Church, Ilocos Norte

Bacarra Church, Ilocos Norte

This church has been included in the list of historical Churches in the Philippines. Visitors can visit this church museum in its former convent, which stores religious and cultural artifacts and other archival images and documents. Moreover, this parish is known for the Torres di Bacarra or its “beheaded” belfry. It is also another National Historical Landmark and a National Cultural Treasure.

The Torre di Bacarra was once one of the highest buildings in the Philippines, with an original design of a sixteen by sixteen-meter base and fifty meters tall. It was once the highest bell tower in the country until earthquakes damaged the structure. The ruined parts of the tower remain untouched and are now filled with beautiful greenery.

Majayjay Church, Laguna

Majayjay Church, Laguna

Originally built with plywood, its original structure was not made to last. The current structure of the Majayjay church has Romanesque roots and is two hundred feet long, fifty-six feet wide, and fifty-four meters high. The parish boasts three stories, and at the highest point is a triangular pediment paired with a circular window. It was originally built in 1649 and has been renovated ever since. Today, the parish has azulejo tiles, a glazed and colored Spanish tile.

This church is also declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National  Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCAA). Augustinian missionaries spearheaded the structure, partly burned in 1660 and restructured in 1707. Furthermore, it served as an American base during the Filipino-American war and was once restructured in 1912.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The Philippines is rich in cultural history, and questions still need to be addressed regarding these sites of the nation.

What are the 4 Heritage Churches in the Philippines?

Plenty of Filipino baroque churches were built during the Spanish colonial period. These churches are the San Agustin Church Manila, San Agustin Church Paoay, Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, and Santo Tomas de Villanueva Iloilo.

What is the Oldest Church in the Philippines?

As previously mentioned, the San Agustin Parish in Manila is known to be the oldest church in the country. It was built in 1571 and is known to be the oldest stone church in the country.

What is the Biggest Church in the Philippines?

Taal Basilica is the largest church in the country and Asia overall. Building the church began in 1755, and the church was continuously beautified. However, a massive earthquake erupted and damaged the church.

Final Thoughts

There are still numerous historical churches in the Philippines to this day. These churches have witnessed numerous strides in national history and culture. They are now more than safe spaces for believers; they are also testaments to Filipino architecture and tourist spots. That said, they always showcase the popular designs in those areas when they were built.

Back To Top