Visita Iglesia in Manila guide free download




A free downloadable and printable PDF guide is now available for those who would want to do the traditional visita iglesia in Manila! This freebie features the remaining eight still existing Spanish colonial era churches in the historic city, either wholly built or with it’s façade intact.











The architecture of San Agustin




The beautiful and ancient church of San Agustin San Agustin, the oldest stone church in the country has the distinction of being made entirely of stone and the first earthquake-proof structure to be erected on Philippine soil. It is solid, compact and well executed that it has survived earthquakes, bombings and both natural and man-made disasters in its 400 years of existence.











San Agustin’s fu dogs and fence




Chinese fu dogs/lions guard the portals and the patio of San Agustin: four located at the facade with one (not shown) have a broken part of the head, and two at the front entrance of the low fence around the patio. One figure is holding its baby while two other figures seem to be playing and holding a ball. These are interesting since these are clearly Chinese in origin but is part of a Christian religious structure.











San Agustin’s richly carved exterior portals




Just before one enters San Agustin, one is already introduced to the massive and richly carved portal bearing the symbols of the Augustinian order as well as the carvings of the order’s founder and his mother. It awes. Its rocaille embellishments, said to be a characteristic of Rococo, a successor to the Baroque style, are highly stylized forms of leaves, rocks and shells.











Some trompe l’oeil details at San Agustin




The trompe l’oeil paintings found inside of San Agustin is just impressive and awe inspiring. However because of the height of the ceiling and the often unlighted interior especially if there are no masses, some wonderful details can often be missed. Take for example at the crossing of the transept and nave where a faux dome is painted, two doves (left) can be seen between two pillars.











Three of San Agustin’s bells




The bell El D. Nombre de Jesus (The Most Sweet Name of Jesus – a reference to the Augustinian province) (left) inscribed with the words FECIT BENITVS REGIBVS, the latinized name of its caster, Benito de los Reyes, used to hang from the now demolished belfry. This bell is dated 1829 during the incumbency of the prior Fray Manuel Grijalbo. Three other names of Augustinian friars can be discerned but quite faintly.











San Agustin’s belfry




The belfry can be accessed through a narrow but short passageway at the antecoro, the room just before the choirloft. This passageway is a spiral staircase of adobe with a balustrade at the upperhalf made of hardwood. The first level leads to the rooftop while the bells can be found at the second level. Note that in 1854, it was agreed in a meeting that this second level be added for aesthetic reasons.