Manila: Visita Iglesia at the Old Downtown

City of Manila, being the capital city of the Philippines, is blessed with heritage churches dating back to 16th century. These bastions of faith served communities in different districts, each has its own history and façade architecture to show.

Being in Manila for several years (since college days), whenever I had time to explore Manila on foot, I would embark on a church visit or visita iglesia to reflect as well as to appreciate our city’s heritage on Lenten Season (season of reflection, fasting and abstinence for Roman Catholics). I always visit the churches below, perfect for my 7-church itinerary.

My visita iglesia guide for seven-church itinerary.
VISITA IGLESIA – it is done every Maundy Thursday, where Catholics visit the churches. As a Roman Catholic, it was customary to visit the seven (7) churches, but there are others that make it fourteen (14), like the “Stations of the Cross”, where one station for each of the fourteen churches.


Coat of Arms of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila
Archidioecesis Manilensis (Latin)
Arkidiyosesis ng Maynila (Filipino)
Arquidiócesis de Manila (Spanish)
Arzobispado de Manila (Spanish)
The Ecclesiastical Province of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila encompasses the cities of Metro Manila (territories), and provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna at Southern Tagalog region (suffragan dioceses).

First stop is the Minor Basilica of San Sebastián that is the only all-steel church in Asia. Completed in 1891, it is an example of the revival of Gothic architecture in the Philippines. It was designated as a National Historical Landmark in 1973 and as a National Cultural Treasure in 2011.

San Sebastian Church is under the care of The Order of the Augustinian Recollects, who also operate a college adjacent to the basilica. It is located at Plaza del Carmen, at the eastern end of Recto Avenue, in Quiapo, Manila.

Minor Basilica of San Sebastian


Our Lady of Mount Carmel



Few minutes of walking westward to Plaza Miranda will lead you to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, known canonically as Parish of Saint John the Baptist, and also known as the Quiapo Church, is a prominent basilica in the district of Quiapo in the city of Manila, Philippines. The basilica is famous home for the Black Nazarene, a dark statue of Jesus Christ said to be miraculous, whose feast is held at January 9.

Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene / Saint John the Baptist Parish (Quiapo Church) 


The venerated Black Nazarene at the high altar

Walking past the streets of Carriedo and Plaza Lacson near Escolta will lead you to Santa Cruz Church, a Baroque Roman Catholic church located in Santa Cruz district, Manila, Philippines. Also known as Our Lady of the Pillar Church, it was built when the arrabal (suburb) of Santa Cruz was established by the Jesuit Order in the early 17th century.

Santa Cruz Parish


Our Lady of the Pillar

From Santa Cruz, across the Carriedo fountain is the Ongpin street. Just walk directly until you see the belfry of Binondo Church, also known as Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, located in the District of Binondo, Manila fronting Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz. This church was founded by Dominican priests in 1596 to serve their Chinese converts to Christianity. The original building was destroyed in 1762 by British bombardment. A new granite church was completed on the same site in 1852 however it was greatly damaged during the Second World War, with only the western façade and the octagonal belfry surviving.

Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz / Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish


The baptistry beneath the belfry that retains the old tiles flooring during the colonial period

From Binondo, I walked again this time a long way to Tondo Church via Divisoria’s busy streets of Juan Luna and Ylaya. Santo Niño de Tondo Church was established by the Augustinians. It houses an image of the Infant Jesus which originally came from Acapulco, Mexico and was handed over by a wealthy merchant to the Archbishop of Manila at that time, who later turned it over to the parish priest of Tondo, Manila. Since 1572, the image of Santo Niño has been enshrined in this church and now one of the most visited churches in the Philippines.

Santo Niño de Tondo Parish


From Tondo church, I walked back to Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz across Binondo church and hailed a jeepney at Juan Luna St. bound to Intramuros. Then I entered the south gate of the walled and visited one of four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, under the collective title Baroque Churches of the Philippines in 1993. This is the famous San Agustin Church also known as Immaculate Conception Parish Church of San Agustin and Shrine of Our Lady of Consolacion y Correa. Under the auspices of The Order of St. Augustine, it is located inside the historic walled city of Intramuros in Manila. In 1976, San Agustin Church was named a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government.

Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of Nuestra Señora de Consolación y Correa (San Agustin Church or the Immaculate Conception Parish)


At the left side of the high altar, you can visit the tombs of Spanish colonizers such as Miguel López de Legazpi and Juan de Salcedo


Finally, the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila is the Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, also known as Manila Cathedral located in Intramuros, the historic walled area within the modern city of Manila, Philippines. It is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, a title for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the principal patroness for the Philippines. It serves as the episcopal seat for the archbishop of Manila.

Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral)


Downtown Manila Route (east to west): San Sebastian-Quiapo-Santa Cruz-Binondo-Tondo-San Agustin-Manila Cathedral

If you have more time, you can go further down south of Manila to visit the equally historic churches of Ermita, Malate, Paco, Santa Ana, and Pandacan.

Have a blessed visita iglesia everyone!

4 thoughts on “Manila: Visita Iglesia at the Old Downtown

  1. Everyone loves what you guys tend to be up too. This sort of clever work and reporting! Keep up the very good works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to blogroll.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! Hoping you can visit our historic churches soon. (n_n)


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close