San Agustin Church
General Luna Street, Manila, Philippines
www.sanagustinchurch.org/con… - (011-63 2) 527-2746 (011-63 2) 527-4052
San Agustin Church Manila Reviews
the last genuine heritage symbol of Intramuros Jul 02, 2012
Out of the seven original churches in Intramuros, only San Agustin church has survived the American war blitz of 1945. Intramuros, by the way is the oldest district in Manila and also called as “The City Within Walls”. This European-style medieval fortified city was constructed under the rule of the Spaniards. Intramuros, itself is a point of interest and will require for another review.
The San Agustin church was originally constructed out of bamboo and nipa (coconut leaves) in 1571 through the leadership of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, founder of the first Spanish colony in the Philippines. However, in 1574 the church made of non-concrete materials was ransacked and set on fire by Chinese pirates. After nine years, another fire destroyed the second church.
In 1606, a permanent church was built by soldier and architect Juan Macias –it is the church today at the intersection of General Luna Street and Calle Real. The sturdy stone church with a Mexican-baroque design has withstood fire, earthquakes and war. One of the two bell towers remained intact after the 1880 earthquake that destroyed the other.
During the 1945 Battle of Manila, the Japanese soldiers used San Agustin as headquarters and concentration camp for the residents of Intramuros. About 7,000 Intramuros residents were imprisoned in this church while bombings were thrown left and right inside the walled city. When the smoke cleared, most of the structures inside the walled city turned into piles of rubble and debris. San Agustin Church however had survived with only having the Legazpi chapel by the main altar damaged by a direct bomb hit.
San Agustin Church earns the title as the oldest building in the Philippines. It is the last genuine heritage symbol of Intramuros. In 1993, the church was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Today, a wedding at San Agustin is much desired because of its artistic interiors and historical significance.
As you explore the interior of the church, you may want to take notice of the following:
The main door is a great beauty of carved molave (one of the sturdiest trees in the country.
As you go inside there is a momentary gloomy atmosphere of the interior, but the central nave and its fourteen side chapels gradually come into focus.
The richly baroque interior of the church is laid out on a simple Latin cross plan, with the gilded baroque pulpit carved from narra tree (the contemporary of oak tree for the U.S. or rosewood tree for China) in 1672 is an amazing work merging baroque motif with tropical flora like the pineapple at its base.
The marble blocks of the floor give off a slightly luminous glow. Towards and inside the chapels, these blocks become inlaid gravestones of important people like, governors and other who have figured in Manila’s history.
The church’s massive barrel vault and dome have finer details.
Look intently at the hanging sixteen large, glossy and art nouveau crystal chandeliers imported from Paris at the turn of the century.
Above the ceiling is a beautiful trompe l’oeil painted in 1875 by two Italian artists Juan Dibella and Cesar Alberoni.
Exiting the church is the monastery adjoining the church where the country’s most extensive wealth of church art and artifacts are housed in the monastery-turned-San Agustin Museum. There is a PhP 100.00 (US$2.00) entrance fee per person for entering the museum but the to go inside the church is free. I haven’t visited the museum yet but I heard no one has ever disappointed of visiting.
An hour of ogling on both the church and the museum is sufficient. Photography inside the church is allowed. Bring lots of water with you, as always. And of course, do wear light or cotton material clothing. You will find it is always humid in the Philippines especially if you come from a colder climate.
To go to church, just hire a taxi and they will bring you to the place. Make sure the taxi driver run the meter instead of paying for a fix amount unless it is raining. If you are paying a fix amount to go anywhere within the city of Manila, it should only cost you PhP100.00 per trip and not per person.
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