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Top 10 Best Churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia 2017

We only asked for 10 but our readers named 18 best Philippine churches!

By: Patricia Marie Prado | April 09, 2017
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best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

Image: Our Lady of Manaoag

The Philippines is known to be a predominantly Catholic country that’s why the Holy Week is one of the most revered and respected traditions of Filipinos every year.

One popular Holy Week tradition in the country is Visita Iglesia. It is a yearly sacrifice of many Catholics who aim to visit seven churches during Maundy Thursday or Good Friday and pray their heart’s prayer.

This week ShoppersGuide asked you, our readers, about your top churches to visit during Holy Week. Read on the list below and bookmark this article so you can visit them this coming Lenten Season.

10. Nagcarlan Church (Laguna) and Santo Domingo Church (Quezon City)

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

See where St. Bartholomew the Apostle resides in Nagcarlan Church. (Image: Joey Tomas)

San Bartolome Apostol Parish Church, or more popularly known as Nagcarlan Church, is located in Nagcarlan, Laguna. The church was built in 1583 and started out as a small church made of light materials such as nipa and wood. Today, Nagcarlan Church is known for the beauty of its stone and brick walls and detailed tile flooring that emanate the Baroque style of construction. Nagcarlan church is also known for its bell tower and the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery.

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

Santo Domingo Church holds the record for the biggest church in Metro Manila. (Image: Raymond Roxas via CBCP Facebook Page)

Santo Domingo Church located in Quezon City also makes it to our number ten. Known as the largest church in Metro Manila and among the biggest in the whole Asia, Santo Domingo Church occupies a total of 3,300 sq. meters of floor area. Built in a Spanish modern style of construction, Santo Domingo church is known not only for its beautiful architecture, but also for the treasures that it holds.

The church is home to the Nuestra Señora del Santísmo Rosario or La Naval de Manila where it gathers hundreds of devotees every year. It also has its own museum, the Museo de Santo Domingo, where they hold centuries-old artifacts.

9. Lucban Church (Quezon)

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

If you love Pahiyas Festival, then you’ll surely fall for Lucban Church. (Image: Jet Panes)

On the ninth spot is Lucban Church in Lucban, Quezon. San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church or Lucban Church was officially established in 1578 and was made primarily in wood. Today, the majestic structure is known for its Baroque style of construction with a three-story façade and a bell tower beside it. Aside from being a popular stopover during Visita Iglesia among the locals, Lucban Church is also known for being the starting point of the famous Pahiyas Festival.

8. Simala Lindogon Church (Cebu)

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

See the castle-like structure and beauty of Simala-Lindogon Church. (Image: Simala Lindogon Church Sibonga)

Number eight on our list is Simala Lindogon Church in Sibonga, Cebu. Built in 1998, the church became famous for its castle-like structure and for housing the statue of the Blessed Virgin. The miraculous statue was believed to have interceded during the 1998 dengue epidemic that hit the land. The statue was also said to have shed tears and healed various kinds of illnesses.

With the many testimonies of the locals, tourists flock to the famous church to also offer their prayers to the Blessed Virgin statue in the hopes of having their requests come true.

7. Navalasa Church (Guimaras), Paoay Church (Ilocos Norte), and Santo Niño Basilica (Cebu)

Three churches tied on our number seven spot and they are Navalasa Church, Paoay Church, and Santo Niño Basilica

Voter’s comment:
“The oldest Roman Catholic church (Navalasa Church) and the only existing heritage church in the island of Guimaras.” – Nenita

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

See the oldest surviving church in Guimaras Island when you visit Navalasa Church. (Image: Caloi Delfin via Discover Panay Island Facebook Page)

The San Isidro Labrador Church or Navalasa Church in Navalas, Guimaras is the oldest-surviving Catholic Church in the province made of concrete. Established in 1880, the church is made up of coral stones to make it sturdier and stronger. The church is also enclosed with stone walls and is accompanied by a belfry that serves as the church’s entrance gate. The church has now become an iconic landmark among the locals and a tourist destination to visitors as well.

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

More than a tourist destination, Paoay Church is also an award-winning church. (Image: St. Augustine Catholic Parish Paoay Ilocos Norte)

Also on number seven is Saint Augustine Church or more popularly known as Paoay Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. The church’s construction was started in 1694 and was finished in 1710. Its structure became popular because of its adaptation of the European Baroque style of construction, evident in its detailed façade, and the huge buttresses on the sides as well, which were made to support the church during earthquakes. Because of its beauty, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the group Baroque Churches of the Philippines in 1993.

Another church that also made it on the seventh spot is Santo Niño Basilica in Cebu.

6. San Sebastian Church (Manila)

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

See the country’s only all-steel church when you visit San Sebastian Church. (Image: BasilicaMinore de San Sebastian Manila)

Sixth on the list is San Sebastian Church is Quiapo, Manila. Aside from being a popular stopover during Visita Iglesia, people adore San Sebastian Church for its amazing architecture. The Church was first built in 1621 using wood and brick materials. After being destroyed multiple times due to earthquake and fire, the then parish priest Esteban Martinez decided to build a new church that will withstand such natural disasters.

Today, the Neo-Gothic style inspired church is known as the only all-steel temple in the country and the only church in the world made of prefabricated steel.

5. San Carlos Borromeo Church (Batanes), San Sebastian Cathedral (Bacolod), St. Joseph the Worker Parish Church (Negros Occidental), and Saint Jude Thaddeue Parish and Shrine (Bacolod)

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

Mahatao Church is a must-visit whenever you are in Batanes. (Image: Splash Travel & Tours)

Half way on our list, four churches made it on our number five. First is San Carlos Borromeo Church also known as Mahatao Church located in Batan Island, Batanes. The picturesque church set amidst the beautiful landscapes of Batanes is established way back in 1787 and was said to be made with stones, a first of its kind in the province. When a strong typhoon in 1872 partially damaged the church, the early leaders of the church who deemed the church too ‘ugly’, took the opportunity to have it reconstructed in 1873. The result is the more artistic and stronger structure which is how it is today.

The pristine white church is not only a popular destination during Holy Week, but has also attracted visitors from various parts of the country all throughout the year because of its beauty.

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

From wood and iron, San Sebastian Church is now known as the stone church of Bacolod. (Image: Tagabacolod)

Also on number five is San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod. Known for its structure made of stones and its two bell towers, the cathedral was built way back in 1825. Originally made from wood and galvanized iron, it has now become a majestic baroque-style structure made of coral stones and hardwood floors.

Other churches that made it on the fifth spot are St. Joseph the Worker Parish Church in Victorias City, Negros Occidental and St. Jude Thaddeus Parish and Shrine in Bacolod.

4. Barasoain Church (Bulacan), San Agustin Church (Manila), and Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Sulu)

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

Revisit your faith as well as your history when you stop by Barasoain Church this Holy Week. (Image: Barasoain Church)

On our number four, three churches made the list. First is Barasoain Church also known as Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Malolos, Bulacan. Built in 1888, the church is known not only for its beautiful architecture but also for its significance in the history of the country. Barasoain Church witnessed the convening of the First Philippine Congress, the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic, and the drafting of the Malolos Constitution. In 1973, former President Ferdinand Marcos also proclaimed it as a National Shrine.

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

San Agustin Church is a sight to behold both on the outside and on the inside. (Image: San Agustin Church)

Another church that made it to our number four is San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila. This historical church was built back in 1586 making it the oldest church in the country. After its completion in 1607, it has endured multiple earthquakes and wars but still stands strong until today. Aside from the impressive façade, the trompe l'oeil paintings in its walls and ceilings also make it a worthy stopover.

Today, aside from being a popular destination during Holy Week, the church is a favorite among couples who choose it as a wedding venue because of its beauty and artistry.

Also on the fourth spot is Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Sulu.

3. Our Lady of Penafrancia (Bicol)

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

Do you live somewhere in Bacolod? Visit Our Lady of Peñafrancia this coming Holy Week. (Image: Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine and Parish)

If you’re familiar with the Peñafrancia Festival, then you’ll certainly recognize Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Bicol that made it to our top three. The church was established by Reverend Miguel Covarrubias in 1711, when he was miraculously healed of his illness after praying to the image of the saint.

Originally, the church houses the image of the Virgin Mary, but it is now transferred to Peñafrancia Minore Basilica. Today, the church still plays an important role in the life of the locals. It is also the starting point of the Translacion procession every September opening the feast of Peñafrancia.

2. Miagao Church (Iloilo)

Voter’s comment:
“Fascinating and beautiful church” – kyutkat

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

From its intricate façade to its distinct yellowish tone, Miagao Church is a true beauty. (Image: Iloilo Heart City)

The church that claimed our second spot is Miagao Church or Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church in Miagao, Iloilo. Known for its intricate façade and structure, Miagao Church was built in 1731 and served not only as a church but also as a defensive tower against the Muslim attackers, hence the thick walls. Its distinct yellowish tone resulted from the materials used to build the church that included egg, adobe, limestone, and coral stones. In 1993, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the group or Baroque Churches of the Philippines.

1. Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag (Pangasinan)

best churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia

Our top spot goes to… Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag! (Image: Our Lady of Manaoag)

The church that claimed our top spot is Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag located in Manaoag, Pangasinan. Established in 1600, the church is one of the country’s most visited Roman Catholic Pilgrimage site because of the miraculous Virgin Mary that it houses. In 1926, the image of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag was canonically crowned because of the favors and blessings that the saint granted all throughout the years to her devotees.

Today, the church doesn’t just receive visitors every Holy Week, but almost every day because of its miraculous promise to its followers.

Results are based on the Top 10 Churches in the Philippines for Visita Iglesia Poll posted at the home page of ShoppersGuide.com.ph from March 27 to April 02, 2017.

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About Patricia Marie Prado
Patricia came from the field of business and accounting but is now pursuing her dreams of being a writer. She is a self-confessed introvert and is passionate about reading, travelling, writing, movies, coffee and God. When she's not writing, she loves discovering new coffee shops/cafe and doing TV-series marathons.
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