San Agustin Church, UNESCO SITE, Manila, Philippines
The San Agustin Church was the only building left intact after the destruction of Intramuros in WWII. Built between 1587 and 1606, it is the oldest church in the Philippines. The massive facade conceals an ornate interior filled with objects of great historical and cultural merit. Note the intricate trompe l’oeil frescoes on the vaulted ceiling. Be sure to check out the tropical cloisters as well as the slightly shabby gardens out the back.
The present structure is actually the third to stand on the site and has weathered seven major earthquakes, as well as the Battle of Manila. It’s an active church and much in demand for weddings and other ceremonies.
To see the interior of the church for free, you must visit during a mass or you can access it through the interesting San Agustin Museum, a treasure house of antiquities that give the visitor tantalising glimpses of the fabled riches of Old Manila. Check out the vaguely Chinese-looking Immaculate Conception statue in ethereal ivory.
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