San Agustin Church
The Philippines’ oldest church
One of Manila’s famous Roman Catholic churches, San Agustin Church is located inside the historic walled city of Intramuros. Built between 1587 and 1606, it is the oldest church in the Philippines. While from the outside San Agustin might not look like much – its apricot-washed walls could do with a lick of paint – from the inside, San Agustin is a Baroque masterpiece.
San Agustin Church is a survivor - still standing today after having weathered natural disasters and invasions, not even World War II (which flattened the rest of Intramuros) could topple San Agustin. Having stood the test of time, today getting hitched inside San Agustin is harder to get into than a pair of Lycra pants on hot summer’s day.
Outside, massive Spanish-influenced facades stand proud, and inside, your eyes are treated to grand roofs with carved with ornate patterns, symbols and inscriptions of great historical and cultural depth. Admire the intricate frescos on the ceiling and the tropical-looking cloisters - the work of Italian decorative artisans Alberoni and Dibella. The pulpit is gilded with pineapples and flowers - a true Baroque original. At the back of the church there is a shabby but nonetheless charming garden, which hasn’t forgotten to nod to the Chinese history of the Philippines too with statues of Chinese dogs stand in the courtyard, a representation of the Chinese cultural presence in the Philippines.
To get inside the church for free, you’ll need to visit during a mass. Alternatively, you can access San Agustin Church through the San Agustin Museum – a worthy stopover for gawking at antiquities from Manila’s colonial past.