The Baroque Churches of the Philippines represent a fusion of European church design (baroque) and local construction techniques and decorations.
Their specific characteristics include a separate bell-tower and strong buttresses to withstand the powers of earthquakes common in the region.
Four churches were selected to make up this World Heritage Site, as samples of the development of this Philippine-Hispanic style over a period of more than 150 years (16th-18th century):
• Church of San Agustin, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
• Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, Santa Maria Ilocos Sur
• Church of San Agustin, Intramuros, Manila
• Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva, Miag-ao, Iloilo
Church of San Agustin, Paoay, Ilocos Norte (1694)
An architectural fusion of Spanish, Chinese and Javanese in “earthquake Baroque” style typified by massive buttresses. HOW TO GET HERE: Manila-Laoag bus to Batac (Florida regular bus – P550 – 8 hours), or fly to Laoag, then hop on a Laoag-Batac-Paoay jeepney.
Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur (1769)
A graceful brick-faced edifice atop a hill overlooking the town, and flanked by grand stone stairways. HOW TO GET HERE: Manila buses bound for Laoag, Vigan and Bangued pass by Sta. Maria (Partas deluxe night bus – 6 hours – PHP 621.00 – Cubao Terminal: Tel. +632 7257303).
Church of San Agustin, Intramuros, Manila (1607)
The oldest surviving church in the Philippines – the only structure in Intramuros spared by World War II – its plain-looking exterior houses elaborately carved doors and trompe l’oeil murals. HOW TO GET THERE: Intramuros is the Spanish walled city of Manila, accessible by LRT, jeepneys and river ferry.
Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva, Miag-ao, Iloilo (1786)
A sandstone church embellished with bas relief of St. Christopher carrying the child Jesus amidst coconut, guava and papaya trees. HOW TO GET HERE: Located 40 km southwest of Iloilo City, Antique-bound buses, jeepneys and vans (45 minutes) pass by this town.