San Agustin Church, a magnificent historical site

Published: 25th May 2010
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San Agustin Church, which belongs to The Order of St. Augustine, is a magnificent Roman Catholic church situated in Manila's famed historic fortified city of Intramuros. Constructed in 1607, the church is the most ancient Christian place of worship still existent in the Philippines; it may even be the oldest standing building in the Philippines. Four Philippine churches including San Agustin Church built during the Spanish colonial era have been conferred the UNESCO World Heritage Site title classified as 'Baroque Churches of the Philippines'.

The San Agustin Church inherits a colourful history. The first church built at the site was the Church of St. Paul, constructed in 1571, as the initial church of the Agustinian Order. This building was destroyed by Chinese pirates in 1574 and the buildings constructed subsequently were devastated twice by fire in the next twelve years.

It was finally decided that San Agustin Church would be rebuilt in a more robust material - stone. The revamped building survived no less than four earthquakes in the course of time, and was raided by the British in 1762. During the period of World War II the church was damaged in the Battle of Manila. However, overall the church has survived the successive calamities remarkably well.

The San Agustin Church's interior features majestic 'trompe l'oeil' (a painting technique where very realistic imagery is used to create a three dimensional effect) murals on the ceiling and walls which never fail to awe the beholder with their resplendent magnificence.

Go upstairs via the museum and you may enter the choir loft, thereby obtaining a spectacular view of the church's interior. The whole church, with its exquisite 14th century chandeliers, has a feeling of belonging to an earlier age, as if the visitor has stepped back in time. The remains of famed Spanish Conquistadors are buried at San Agustin Church.

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