With the country’s strong Spanish heritage, it is impossible not to find any church in the Philippines that is captivatingly beautiful and with exquisite architectural details. As we observe this season Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection through a visita iglesia, we list down seven churches you have to include in your itinerary for their magnificent grandeur.

National Shrine of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Photo by Jereme Cruz.jpgPhoto by Jereme Cruz

Declared two years ago as a national shrine on December 14, this parish located at Broadway Avenue in Quezon City is founded in 1975 by the Order of Discalced Carmelites. It was recently renovated, enhancing the beauty of its immaculate walls and grand altar. Make sure to view the splendid stained glass decors depicting the Carmelite saints and their teachings as well as the four main dogmas of the Virgin Mary. 

Church of the Gesu 

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Also located in Quezon City is the famous white church under the care of the Jesuits at the Ateneo de Manila University. Designed by Jose Pedro Recio and Carmelo Casas, it is acclaimed for its contemporary architecture and geometric form. Simple as it may seem from the outside compared to Manila’s grand basilicas, the ambience inside evokes optimum spiritual atmosphere. 

Santuario del Sto. Cristo Church

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Originally built in the 1600s by the Dominicans, one of San Juan’s church is Santuario del Sto Cristo that is frequented by pilgrims for its well preserved façade. Its intricate baroque details transports everyone that sees it back to time, not to mention the historic image of the Sto. Cristo that was originally venerated in Binondo Church until it was enshrined in San Juan permanently in 1641. 

Basilica Menor de San Sebastian 

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It has been the refuge of San Sebastian College students and the Order of the Augustinian Recollects for decades and we can’t blame them. Its incredible steel construction and neo-gothic architecture are reminiscent of Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Família in Barcelona and it has been rumoured to be co-designed by Gustave Eiffel. It has been declared as a National Cultural Treasure in 1973 but in recent years, it has encountered threats to its structural integrity due to rust and corrosion. 

St. Paul University Philippines Chapel

Photo by Franz Sorilla 2.jpgPhoto: Courtesy of Franz Sorilla

In 1907, four French nuns and one Chinese from the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres established Saint Paul University in Cagayan. In 1982, the St. Paul College of Tuguegarao became St. Paul University Philippines, thus elevating its status as the mother of all St. Paul colleges in the country.

Photo by Franz Sorilla.jpgPhoto: Courtesy of Franz Sorilla

The chapel is a miniature replica of the grand Our Lady of Chartres Cathedral in France. Its stained glass windows from all sides of the cross-shaped chapel is a sight to behold. 

St. James the Great Parish Church 

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Adorned by murals and ceiling paintings by Father Santiago Blanco and Simon Flores, the Betis Church, as it was affectionately called, is like a visual gallery, religious museum, and a church all rolled into one.

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This National Cultural Treasure was even dubbed as the “Sistine Chapel of the Philippines” because of the paintings that enchant every one who enters it for the first time.

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This baroque-inspired church was built around 1660 and surprisingly, its parish community continues to celebrate many of its traditions that date back to 17th Century. 

Chapel of the Transfiguration, Caleruega 

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Famous for being a retreat centre and wedding venue, the Dominican Order’s rustic Spanish-influenced church in  Caleruega, Batangas is perhaps the most photographed church in the country. Its lush greenery and flowers give pilgrims a breathtaking view and make a perfect backdrop for the cosy, intimate chapel.

You might like to read this:

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Joey Velasco: Transforming Life Through Art
Highlights of the Holy Land
Tatler Guide to Baroque Churches in the Philippines
Take Me To Church
French Photographer Showcases Philippine Baroque Churches


Tags: Travel, Holy Week, Visita Iglesia, Churches, 7 Of The Most Beautiful Church