Visita Iglesia in Ilocos Provinces

Ilocos provinces are found in the northwestern corner of Luzon island. They are treasure trove of heritage churches mostly made of bricks and massive that they have their own style. This is called Earthquake Baroque, where the belltower is separated from the main church building, to prevent one edifice to topple the another in case of earthquakes. The churches are fortress-like that two of them made it to UNESCO world heritage list under Baroque Churches of the Philippines. They are considered national cultural treasures as well. Below are the Ilocos churches I visited on my trips at Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur for the past decade.


The Roman Catholic Diocese of Laoag (Latin: Dioecesis Laoagensis) is a Roman Rite diocese of the Latin Church of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. The diocese was erected in 1961 from the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. Its territory comprises the whole province of Ilocos Norte, and the seat of diocese is Laoag Cathedral (Cathedral of Saint William the Hermit).
Parish Church of Saint Andrew of Bacarra – Bacarra Church was originally founded by the Augustinians and dedicated it to St. Andrew. It is known for its centuries-old and domeless leaning bell tower. The church and an adjoining convent were established in 1593. In 1973 President Ferdinand Marcos declared the church a National Cultural Treasure through Presidential Decree No. 260.
The retablos
Main altar or retablo mayor
The church museum, known as Museo de Bacarra, is housed in the former church convent. The two-story restored convent, which dates to the Spanish colonial era, features religious artifacts from archival photos and documents and church relics and cultural artifacts mostly contributed by the people of Bacarra. A mysterious underground staircase leading to three tunnels – believed to be connected to the Bacarra river, the church tower, and the altar – was uncovered at the back of the old convent
The Bacarra church is famous for its centuries-old, domeless or “beheaded” belfry known as Torre ti Bacarra. The structure stands three stories and 50 metres (160 ft) high. The original bell tower, which is detached from the main church building and made of coral bricks, was erected in 1828. However, periodic earthquakes from 1931 to 1971 caused the dome to start leaning. The entire dome was toppled by the 1983 Luzon earthquake, Restoration was ongoing as I visited last January 2020.
Laoag Cathedral, canonically known as Saint William’s Cathedral (Spanish: Catedral de San Guillermo) is a church in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. The current church was built in 1612 by Augustinian friars to replace a wooden chapel. It also serves as the seat or central church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Laoag. The church is known for its Italian Renaissance design. It also has an unusual two-storey façade, supported by two pairs of columns on each side of the arched entrance. The top of the façade holds a recessed niche that showcases the image of the city’s patron saint, San Guillermo el Ermitaño. It has windows made from capiz with wrought iron screens.


The main retablo and two smaller ones on its sides. The lower level of the huge retablo contains the image of Saint William, the parish’s patron saint.


Belfry of San Guillermo Cathedral in Laoag – The famous “Sinking Bell Tower” sinks into the ground at a rate of an inch a year. It has survived several minor earthquakes since its construction, causing scholars to label it an Earthquake Baroque style structure. The tower, built presumably after the 1707 earthquake, has a foundation of 90 metres (300 ft). 
It is made of locally manufactured bricks joined by molasses and juice of sablot leaves mixed with lime and sand, and reinforced with four massive columns on each corner and a winding stairway leading to the belfry. It used to have a large clock on the tower’s western face. This was declared as a National Cultural Treasure under Watchtowers of Ilocos Norte.


St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church_san nicolas
The San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church is a Roman Catholic parish church located in the municipality of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. Exhibiting a baroque façade, the church bears the Spanish coat of arms. A three-storey belltower on its right was built by Father Vitoriano Garcia.
St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church convent_san nicolas
San Nicolas Church was first constructed in 1584, the same year the town was founded by the Augustinian friars. The town then was named Visita de Caluntian because of the abundant lanuti tree in the area. The church was reconstructed in 1693 by Father Antonio Villanueva. Shown is the church’s convent.
Immaculate Conception Parish in Batac City, Ilocos Norte was founded by the Augustinians in 1587 under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception. It is the second oldest town established by the Augustinians in the province of Ilocos Norte. Hence, in 1987, Batac reached its 4th centennial. The church has Romanesque look with an Italian influence exemplified by recessed portals and embellished wheel windows.
The large bell displayed at church’s patio.
Batac City church is actually old as seen in the brick layers on its buttresses.
The Saint Augustine Church (Spanish: Iglesia de San Agustín de Paoay), commonly known as the Paoay Church, is a Roman Catholic church in the Municipality of Paoay, Ilocos Norte in the Philippines. Completed in 1710, the church is famous for its distinct architecture highlighted by the enormous buttresses on the sides and back of the building. It is declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the Philippine government in 1973 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the collective group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines in 1993.
Parish founded by Augustinian missionaries, 1593. Cornerstone of church laid, 1704; of convent, 1707; of tower, 1793. Used before completion and kept in repair by the people under the joint auspices of the Church and the town officials. Inauguration ceremonies, 28 February 1896. Church damaged by earthquake, 1706 and 1927. Tower used as observation post by Katipuneros during the Revolution, by Guerrilleros during the Japanese Occupation.
The three retablos
Main retablo
The back of the church with massive buttresses


The UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription under the collective group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines in 1993.
The façade of Paoay church and UNESCO World Heritage marker
Saint Mark the Evangelist Parish Church_cabugao ilocos norte
Saint Mark the Evangelist Parish Church is located in Cabugao, Ilocos Norte. Built in 1772, it lost part of its aesthetics when it was burned in 1965. The architectural charm of its interiors was no longer restored. However, renovation in recent years has improved its beauty.


The Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia is an archdiocese of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. It covers the province of Ilocos Sur, on the island of Luzon. The see of the archdiocese is the city of Vigan and its seat is Saint Paul Metropolitan Cathedral, also know as Vigan Metropolitan Cathedral.
Vigan Cathedral, canonically known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. It serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site declaration for the Historic Town of Vigan in 1999.
South of the cathedral is a separate 25 metres (82 ft) bell tower with a weather rooster on top, which symbolizes Saint Peter. 
The church is predominantly in Earthquake Baroque style with large buttresses on its side. It also has Neo-Gothic, Romanesque and Chinese inspired embellishments. In its interior are silver-paneled main altar, three naves, 12 minor altars and brass communion handrails.


The only remaining Archbishop’s Palace in the Philippines built during the Spanish colonization is located in Vigan, beside the cathedral. 


Saint Lucy Parish Church stands across the park of Narvacan in Ilocos Sur. As part of the modern township, a Roman Catholic parish was established by the Augustinian religious order on 25 April 1587. The Narvacan parish would become one of the first Roman Catholic parishes in present-day Ilocos Sur.
The belltower st the right side of the church
The three retablos common in Ilocos churches.
Main retablo
One of the few churches with cemeteries right outside the left door. 
IMG_20160528_092324 - Copy
Parish Church Complex of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion of Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur – The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria. Ilocos Sur sits on a hill surrounded by a defensive wall, unlike other town churches in the country which conform to the Spanish tradition of placing them on the central plaza.
Unusual also are the sitting of the convent: parallel to the facade of the church and that of the separate bell tower (characteristic of a Philippine-Hispanic architecture) at the midpoint of the nave wall. This was dictated With a hill on which it is located.
The brick church follows the standard Philippine layout, with a monumental facade masking a straight roof-llne covering a long rectangular building. It is alleged to be built on a solid raft as a precaution against earthquakle damage. The walls devoid of ornament but have delicately carved side entrances and strong buttresses.
The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Nuestra Señora de la Asunción), commonly known as the Santa Maria Church is the parish church of Santa Maria in Ilocos Sur province, Philippines. The church was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on December 11, 1993 as part of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines, a collection of four Baroque Spanish-era churches.
Construction of the present church was started in 1765. In 1810, the bell tower was built during the renovation of the church and furnished with a bell the following year. During the renovation of church complex in 1863, the protective wall around the sides of the hill was constructed. After the bell tower was remodeled the same year, its foundation must have gradually settled down making the imposing structure slightly leaning or tilting as it appears today. The convent was greatly renovated in 1895.


The Santa Maria Church is an attraction to both tourists and Catholics in Ilocos Sur. It is not only a reminiscent of the four centuries of Spanish domination of that area but also a unique structure with a diversified architectural design of bricks and mortar. It was built on top of a hill not only as a lookout and a citadel but as a religious center during the early administration of the region by both the friars and soldiers of Spain.
The Saint John of Sahagun Parish Church, locally known as the Candon Church, is a church situated in the city of Candon, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. Founded in 1591 and constructed with an Earthquake Baroque design in 1695, the church is maintained and is still being used up to present. The church’s four-storey octagonal bell tower has an alternating open and blind apertures, a balustrade and is topped by a campanile (bell tower).
Nave of the church with beautiful ceiling paintings
Main altar
One of the highlights of this church are the two painting on canvas almost 150 feet (46 m) long, representing the 20 Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. It is said to be the longest religious painting in the Philippines. Father Vincente Avila, his cousin Mel Andino (an arts teacher), and Andino’s student Redentor Castillo were the brains and hands behind the paintings, and was unveiled December 2007.


View from the City Plaza
The Holy Family Image scuplted from a fallen mahogany tree of City Plaza


Ilocos North-South Route: Bacarra-Laoag City-San Nicolas-Batac City-Paoay-Cabugao-Vigan City-Narvacan-Santa Maria-Candon City

Have a blessed visita iglesia everyone! (n_n)

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