Located inside the historic walled city of Intramuros in Manila, San Agustin Church was built in 1589 making it the oldest stone church in the Philippines.
San Agustin Church
In 1993, San Agustin Church together with three other Baroque churches in the country was declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Unknown to many, the present structure is actually the third Augustinian church to be constructed on the site. The first San Agustin Church, built in 1571 was destroyed by fire in 1574 during the raid of the Chinese pirates led by Limahong.
The oldest church in the country
The second church, also made of wood was constructed soon after but was destroyed in 1583 when it was gutted y fire during the funeral of a Spanish Governor General.
San Agustin Museum
The third and present church was constructed in 1586. This time the structure was built from adobe stones quarried from the area of present day Rizal province. Due to the lack of funds and scarcity of stone artisans, the construction dragged on for years. Finally the church was declared complete on January 19, 1607.
San Agustin’s Church Altar
A view of the interior from the choir loft
San Agustin Church faced more challenges in the years that followed. The British forces looted the church during their occupation of Intramuros. Earthquakes were also a main factor that affected the church. During the 1880 earthquake, the left bell tower was damaged which eventually led to its removal. Luckily the church survived the Second World War with only a damaged roof.
Today San Agustin Church is undergoing renovations
Today, San Agustin Church stands 67.15 meters long and 24.93 meters wide.The remains of Spanish conquistadors, Governor-Generals, archbishops, and even some Filipino heroes are housed within this old church. ( You would see that on my next blog.)
The most common way of reaching San Agustin Church is by taxi. However, if you want to feel the life in Old-Manila (Intramuros) I highly suggest that you board a jeepney going to Divisoria. Tell the driver to drop you off in front of Manila City hall. Cross the street using the underpass and walk several meters until you see the entrance of the Walled City. Ride a horse drawn carriage going to San Agustin Church to experience what it used to feel during the Spanish Times.