The Majestic Paoay Church

I am very much amazed by the sheer number of old-churches The Philippines has. Of the hundreds of old-style churches that we have here, only 4 of them are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Your trip to Ilocos wouldn’t be complete without visiting the marvelous Paoay Church.

Located in the sleepy town of Paoay in Ilocos Norte, the San Agustin church boasts of high and thick walls serving as its fortress. With a beauty to die for, visiting this one is a must.

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UNESCO World Heritage Site: Nuestra Senora dela Asuncion Church in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur

The Baroque Churches of the Philippines is the official designation to a collection of four Spanish-era churches in the Philippines, upon its inscription to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993. They are also one of the most treasured in the Country. The collection is composed of the following:

  • San Agustin Church in Manila
  • Santa Maria Church in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur
  • San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte
  • Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo

These churches have been at the forefront of Philippine history, not just in furthering Christianity in the archipelago, but in serving as the political backbone of Spanish colonial rule, when Church and State were regarded as one. The unique architecture of the churches didn’t just reflect the adaptation of Spanish/Latin American architecture to the local environment (including the fusion with Chinese motifs), but also of the Church’s political influence. These churches had been subject to attacks by local revolts and rebellions, hence, most had the appearance of a fortress, rather than just serving as mere religious structures. This is especially noteworthy in the case of Santa Maria Church, located on top of a hill, serving as a citadel during times of crisis. Miag-ao Church also withstood the occasional attacks of Muslims from the south. Further, the location of the Philippines along the Pacific Ring of Fire called for the emphasis on the buttresses and foundations of these churches, with some being seriously damaged, but eventually rebuilt after an earthquake

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