April 17, 2019

ILOCOS SUR TRAVEL: Santa Maria Church Manifests UNESCO World Heritage Baroque Ensemble

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  • ILOCOS SUR TRAVEL: Santa Maria Church Manifests UNESCO World Heritage Baroque Ensemble
  • A UNESCO World Heritage and one of the four beautiful baroque churches in the Philippines lies behind the town of Sta. Maria in Ilocos Sur.

    Situated in the town center and sitting on top of a hill is Santa Maria Church, also known as The Church of Our Lady of Assumption

    Santa Maria Church manifests a Spanish-Era facade of stone bricks 

    History and Facade

    Baroque Churches in the Philippines was first built during the Spanish Colonial Period. Spanish missionaries, along with Filipinos and Chinese migrants, were some of the people who influenced the design of the baroque churches highlighting Spanish structures.

    One of the four baroque churches in the country is the Santa Maria Church that was built by the Augustinian friars as a chapel for the town of Narvacan back in 1769. 40 years later, the bell tower beside the church was built in 1810, as a home for missionaries going to Abra.

    While most churches around the country are situated just across the town square or the municipality, Santa Maria Church is situated on top of a hill, overlooking the town and can be accessed through an almost 80 concrete steps going up.

    Just beside the church is the bell tower that serves as a home for missionaries back then


    Today, the church is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage as part of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines as it embodies Spanish-era characteristics, such as stone bricks, massive buttresses on the sides that serve as protection to the wall, and a hexagonal bell tower separated from the church.

    On the side of the church, you’ll find massive buttresses that serve as protection for earthquakes

    Inside, the walls are painted white, with barreled ceilings and black hanging chandeliers. The typical wooden seats are neatly placed on the sidelines highlighting the tiles on the center aisle leading to the blue and gold pillar altars.

    The insides of the church highlight a blue, white and gold finish leading to the pillar altars. 

    Pillar altars of blue and gold

    The church’s architectural ensemble manifests a historical past that’s been preserved as a national cultural treasure of the country. Not to mention that it has also surpassed numerous earthquakes and natural calamities and still, standing strong.

    Also read: VIGAN TRAVEL: Ruby Jar Factory, Vigan’s 90 Year Old Craft of Earthen Jars

    How to get there:

    • By car: From Candon, Ilocos Sur, head north to the MacArthur Hwy/Manila N Rd. Turn right towards Col. S.F. Reyes Ave. Continue onto Santa Maria – Burgos Road, and then turn left to Church drive. The church drive is where you can park your cars and walk towards the entrance of the church. The church drive is located at the back of the church.
    • By public transport: If you’re coming from Manila, you can ride a bus such as Partas, Dominion Bus, Aniceto Bus and Viron Transit going to Vigan and get off at the town proper of Sta. Maria. Bus fares are around Php 500-Php 600. Get off at the town proper and walk towards the church.


    Address: Santa Maria – Burgos Rd, Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur
    Operating Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    This first appeared in Philippine Primer Japanese magazine’s February 2019 issue.

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