Last Updated: June 9th, 2018
Intramuros, also known as the Walled City, formerly housed the seat of government and was considered as the center of economy and religion in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period. Having been well-kept and restored by the Intramuros Administration since its inception in 1979, this historical icon continues to house the two remaining Spanish-era churches within its walls–the Manila Cathedral and the San Agustin Church.
In its heyday, however, Intramuros was home to at least 8 churches from different religious orders. This includes San Nicolas de Tolentino Church, Third Venerable Order Church, San Francisco Church, Santo Domingo Church, and the San Ignacio Church–all destroyed by during the Battle of Manila in 1945.
1. Manila Cathedral
Originally the “Church of Manila”, it was raised into a cathedral in 1579 under the first bishop of Manila Domingo de Salazar. It is perhaps one of the most storied cathedrals in the country with its long history of destruction, restoration, and multiple iterations. From the time it was first constructed using nipa and other light materials until it was built to resemble the Church of Il Gesu in Rome.
The present Manila Cathedral was reconstructed from 1954 to 1958 after it sustained serious damage during the Battle of Manila in 1945. Its present iteration was spearheaded by renowned Filipino architect Fernando H. Ocampo–the man behind some of the famous landmarks in Escolta.
2. San Agustin Church
First built in 1571 using light materials, San Agustin Church was the first place of worship built by the Spaniards in the island of Luzon. It was later rebuilt using stone and is now considered as the oldest stone church in the country.
Unknown to many, the church houses the remains of early Spanish conquistadores–Miguel López de Legazpi, Guido de Lavezaris, Juan de Salcedo and Martín de Goiti. In 1920, the remains of renowned Filipino painter and political activist, Juan Luna was transferred to the the church after it were exhumed in Hong Kong.
San Agustin Church was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 along with three other Spanish-era Baroque churches in the country.
The Manila Project
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