7 Breathtaking Churches to Visit in the Philippines

Must-Visit Churches in the Philippines

Catholicism is deeply significant to the Philippines’ history and culture. For proof of just how important the Roman Catholic faith is to the Filipino, visitors need only to look at the places where they congregate for worship. To the Filipino laity, a church serves as a house of God and a place to celebrate one’s culture and community as animated by their faith. That’s why it’s no surprise that many of the Philippines’ major cultural and historical landmarks are churches, and why they are often highlighted on tourist trips.

Whether you’re a Catholic yourself, someone who believes in the pamahiin or cultural belief that you can make a wish upon your first visit to a church, or just someone who wants to see beautiful art and architecture up close, you’ll be in for a treat when you visit the many beautiful churches in the country. Look for hotels in Tacloban or other top tourist destinations in the Philippines, and start a pilgrimage that includes any one of these churches!

1. San Agustin Church of Paoay in Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Known more popularly as Paoay Church, the San Agustin Church is famous for its iconic triangular façade. The structure is also surrounded by 24 enormous buttresses along its sides and back, giving a visual impression that’s not unlike a castle or fortress.

This beautiful, but formidable-looking church was declared a National Culture Treasure in 1973, and it is among a handful of Philippine churches that have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. No visit to Ilocos Norte—which is also the home of the Bangui Wind Farm and La Paz sand dunes—is complete without a stop at Paoay Church.

2. The Shrine of St. Andrew Kim Taegon in Bocaue, Bulacan

The Hallyu Wave is very much alive in the Philippines, but the country’s close ties with South Korea began as early as the 1800s with the arrival of St. Andrew Kim Taegon.

Celebrated as the first Korean-born Catholic priest and a martyr of the Catholic faith, St. Andrew Kim took refuge from religious persecution in Korea and lived as a seminarian in Lolomboy, Bocaue. His shrine in Bocaue is distinct for its usage of traditional Korean hanok architecture, complete with ridges, purlins, and tiled roofs. If your trip takes you to the province of Bulacan, make sure to visit this picturesque shrine.

3. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Malolos, Bulacan

Another church that you should seek out in Bulacan for its simple beauty and historical significance is Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, or Barasoain Church in Malolos. The church’s famous moniker is that of the Philippines’ “Cradle of Democracy in the East,” since it figured prominently in the Philippine Revolution and was the birthplace of the Malolos Republic.

With its modest naves and clean, elegant white-and-gold interiors, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish may not seem as elaborate as the other churches featured on this list. Nevertheless, it is a place that has long nurtured faith and bravery, and upon stepping foot here, visitors may understand why.

4. The Basilica of San Martin de Torres in Taal, Batangas

Also located in Taal, Batangas is the Basilica of San Martin de Torres, or Taal Basilica. With a height of almost 300 feet and a width of more than 150 feet, Taal Basilica holds the distinction of being the largest church in the Philippines, as well as in Asia.

Taal Basilica’s façade is constructed in the same style as St. Peter’s Basilica, the most recognizable structure in the Roman Catholic religion. The church also houses a silver tabernacle for the safekeeping of the Eucharist—the only one of its kind in the country. Taal Basilica is a popular destination during the Lenten season as a part of the Filipino tradition of Visita Iglesia. But don’t hesitate to visit the church any time of the year, and to dedicate your special intentions if you have any.

5. Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Church in Daraga, Albay

If you’re headed towards the Bicol region, Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Church or Daraga Church in Albay is a must-see.

Daraga Church’s beautifully embellished, ultra-Baroque façade is actually wrought from volcanic stone, and it is one of the few churches in the Philippines that features spiral Solomonic columns. Each of these four columns bears an image of the four evangelists St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John. Visitors to the church of Nuestra Señora de la Porteria will be treated to a stunning view of its architectural features, as well as Mayon Volcano in the background.

6. The Archdiocesan Shrine of the Santo Niño in Tacloban, Leyte

The Church of the Santo Niño in Tacloban has always been one of the city’s major landmarks, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, its status was elevated to that of an archdiocesan shrine. Residents regard the church’s patron, the blessed image of the Child Jesus, as responsible for miraculously saving the area from an epidemic in the late 1800s.

Like the people of Tacloban, the church has had to weather its fair share of trials, including typhoons and hurricanes. With its soaring bell tower and naturally lit, open-air design, the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Santo Niño serves as a beacon of hope and a fitting testament to Leyteños’ faithfulness and resilience.

7. Christ the King Cathedral in Tagum City, Davao del Norte

Mindanao is home to three major religious groups, namely the “tri-people” comprising the Muslims, Christians, and Lumads. One important point of congregation for the second group is the Christ the King Cathedral in Tagum City.

This church boasts a stunning castle-like design painted in coral pink, beige, and gray hues, as well as a garden that houses the world’s largest and longest rosary (with each bead being roughly the size of a barrel). Visitors can go on a scenic stroll while reciting their prayers or doing the Stations of the Cross, then end their one-of-a-kind pilgrimage at the foot of the majestic monument to the Risen Christ.

Those traveling within the Philippines have many options for churches to visit, including the seven listed above. Which of these churches are you most excited to set foot in?


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