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Places of Worship in Manila, Part I (Self Guided), Manila

Manila is a wonderful city. Part of its beauty consists of many glorious buildings. Religious buildings in Manila have a special way of attracting many visitors. Unique architecture, a delicate mixture of styles and exclusive interiors make these edifices shine in the sun and create an extremely attractive venue. Take this tour to see and admire some of the most stunning places of worship in Manila.
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Places of Worship in Manila, Part I Map

Guide Name: Places of Worship in Manila, Part I
Guide Location: Philippines » Manila (See other walking tours in Manila)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: nicole
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Basilica of San Sebastian
  • Masjid Al-Dhahab
  • Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene
  • Santa Cruz Church
  • Teng Hai Temple
  • San Lorenzo Ruiz Minor Basilica
  • Seng Guan Temple
Basilica of San Sebastian

1) Basilica of San Sebastian (must see)

Standing immaculately on the end of Claro M. Recto Street, in Quiapo, Manila, is the Basilica of San Sebastian. Known for its ornate architecture, the building is one of the many structures worth visiting in the city.

Built in 1891, the Basilica is known to be the first to accomplish many feats in the city. Apart from the immense history the building so profoundly displays, the Church is considered one of the first prefabricated buildings in the world. It is also the first structure in Asia to be built around a solid steel interior. The Basilica’s fame does not stop at just that. It is believed that Gustave Eiffel, the famous engineer behind the Eiffel tower and the strong steel interiors of the Statue of Liberty was very instrumental in building the Basilica of San Sebastian.

The motive behind the solid and unusual steel frame goes back to the series of earthquakes and misfortunes that razed the structure in the past. The first structure was built in the early 17th century but was brought down during the Chinese uprising. Further constructions on the site were brought down by a series of earthquakes in 1859, 1863, and 1880. It was then that the parish priest Estebán Martínez, approached Genaro Palacios, with a plan to make the indestructible church that would resist fire, mob and even earthquake.
Masjid Al-Dhahab

2) Masjid Al-Dhahab

Manila is a brilliant combination of different cultures, communities and people, with a drizzle of rich history and flamboyant heritage. One of the most populous cities in the world, people of all communities and cultures have learned to thrive, flourish and prosper on the shores of Manila. This co-existence of different cultures can be seen with the fabulous monuments that make up the backdrop of this colorful city. One such monument worth visiting is the Masjid Al- Dhahab.

The Masjid Al- Dhahab or more commonly known as the Golden Mosque is located in the predominantly Muslim section of Quiapo in Manila. The Masjid gets its name from the lustrous golden dome that it proudly greets its visitors with. Built in 1976, the Masjid was constructed to honor the visit of the Libyan strongman and politician – Muammar Al – Gaddafi. The construction of the entire mosque was taken care of by the First lady of Manila Imelda Marcos, whose husband Ferdinand Marcos was then the President of the Philippines.

Although the building of this gigantic scale never saw the visit from Gaddafi, it became the central mosque for all the Muslims in the region. Designed to seat around 3000 people, the Masjid is the main mosque for the Jumah or the Friday prayers.
Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene

3) Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (must see)

Quiapo church, also known as St.John the Baptist Parish, is located in the District of Quiapo, Manila and is one the most famous churches in the Philippines. This Roman Catholic Church, houses the venerated statue of Jesus Christ, known as the Black Nazrene and hence the official name, Minor Basilica of the Black Nazrene. The Church currently belongs to the Archdiocese of Manila.

Not only the church but also the statue of the Black Nazarene were destroyed several times. The building was destroyed as a result of the fires of 1791 and 1929. In 1645 and 1863, the structure suffered damages due to earthquakes. It was also bombed by the Americans during World War II and was finally reconstructed to accommodate devotees in 1984.

The dark wooden statue of Christ carrying a cross is revered and believed to be miraculous by several Filipino Catholics. The statue was initially light colored but an accidental fire during its shipping from Mexico turned it dark. Although, the statue survived this fire, it was destroyed in 1945 during the Battle of Manila and was replaced by a replica given by the Recollect Priests. In association with its icon, the church has three annual processions on the 9th of January, New Years Day and the Good Friday. For public veneration, the Black Nazarene is brought out during these processions for the 8 million attendees.
Santa Cruz Church

4) Santa Cruz Church

Built in the northern part of Manila, between the Tondo and Quiapo districts is the Spanish baroque styled Santa Cruz Church. This Roman Catholic Church located near the bank of Pasig River was built by the Jesuits in 1608 for the increasing suburban Chinese population in the area who had converted to Catholic faith. The Jesuits oversaw the Church till they were expelled from the archipelago in 1768 after which the administration was overtaken by the Dominicans. After suffering damages due to the earthquakes and World War II, the present edifice was reconstructed in 1947. The church is flanked by the Carriedo Fountain and the Church’s titular patroness Nuestra Senora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar) which was canonically established in 1743. The Confraternity of Nuestra Senora del Pilar was brought from Spain, which is a reminiscent of the Spanish built mission in California. The College of San Ildefonso and the San Lazaro Hospital are also present in the vicinity of the Santa Cruz Church.

The exterior as well as the interiors of the church are ascetic and simple. There are two chapels in this church. Numerous statues of saints are seen in the left chapel and the replica of Jesus of Nazrene along with some more statues of saints can be seen in the right chapel. Tombs of significant Filipino-Chinese resident of the Santa Cruz area can be seen in the right chapel.
Teng Hai Temple

5) Teng Hai Temple

The wonderful Teng Hai Temple was built more than one hundred years ago. It has more than fifty Buddha statues. It is a very colorful and peaceful place. Visitors are always very welcome. The interior is decorated with many moments from Buddha's life. Some of the statues are covered with golden paint which gives the temple a golden sheen.
San Lorenzo Ruiz Minor Basilica

6) San Lorenzo Ruiz Minor Basilica (must see)

Inspite of several ups and downs, the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, better known as the Binondo Church stands tall on the Ongpin street. The Church is named after Lorenzo Ruiz who served as a sacristan at the church and later became a missionary in Japan. He is well known as the world’s first Filipino saint. The architecture of the church shows evident features of both Philippine and Chinese styles. One of the Chinese features seen in the church is the octagonal shaped bell.

Originally built in 1596, the Church was in ruins in 1603 during Chinese revolt. In 1614, it was built again and renamed as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. In 1762, the Church became a victim of the British bombardment and had to be reconstructed. It was destroyed yet again in 1863 due to the earthquake and was rebuilt. During the Second World War II, the Church was destroyed again and lay in ruins until it was finally rebuilt in 1984. Even after all this turmoil, the Church retains its external look whereas the interiors show modern architectural features. The paintings that have been put up at the altar and the light colored marble columns enhance the spacious interiors of the Church. The Mass is usually conducted in either Foolien or in Mandarin. This beautiful basilica famous for its religious importance and its history, is a common tourist location.
Seng Guan Temple

7) Seng Guan Temple

Located on Narra Street and serving as the center of worship for the Buddhists, is the Mahayana styled Seng Guan Buddhist Temple. This three-floor temple crowned with beautiful golden stupas is also known as “Temple of Thousand Buddhas”. The second floor of the temple is famous for the carved murals that depict different scenes from Buddha’s life and the three silk-mache gold Buddhas. It also has special rooms for chanting sutras and prayers. There is also a congregation hall (generally closed to public) with a 10 foot Buddha statue.

A phenomenal aspect of this temple is that the interiors are so spacious that make the exteriors look smaller. The facade has well detailed intricate carvings which pique the interest of the visitors. Devotees are welcome to place their offerings and light incense in the large bronze incense burner placed at the altar of Kuan Yin, a Bodhisattva regarded with respect by East Asian Buddhists and associated with compassion. Another Bodhisattva that can be seen in this temple is Avalokitesvara, who is believed to have made a vow to listen to all prayers and assist all beings in the world in achieving nirvana. During the Catholic Holy Week, the Buddhist monks from Taiwan gather in this temple. The history of the temple shows it was damaged due to a fire in the 70s but today bears no markings of the damage.

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