My favorite church and the top tourist sight in Manila (read more here), at least in my book, is the beautiful church of San Agustin, with its attached museum. I’m not the only one who is impressed – the UNESCO named it a World Heritage site of four baroque churches in the Philippines.
Continuing with the superlatives, is also the oldest stone church in the Philippines and survived the many earthquakes that felled several iterations of the Manila Cathedral (read here) as well as World War II. It is the self-proclaimed “wedding capital” of the Philippines, so it was no surprise that there was a wedding ceremony on a recent visit.
It’s easy to understand why, once you step through the doors of the church and look down the nave towards the beautiful altar, up to the painted ceiling and golden chandeliers. After you are done gazing at the ceiling, you should make your way to the museum next door. It allows you to walk around the complex. As you stroll through the hallways, you can look into the gardens and over the convent as well. You can visit multiple small exhibitions with religious sculptures and paintings. You should make your way up the stunning staircase to the second floor. You will find a model of San Agustin and further exhibits. From the room housing the large organ, you can look down the central nave of the church, for a better view and photos than from the ground floor!
San Agustin is located in Intramuros, a short walk from the Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago. There is no fee to enter the church – it’s a working church, so please be respectful as in any religious building and watch out for the mass and events schedule. The museum should be part of your visit. There is a 100Peso ($2) entrance fee and well worth it. If you are hungry after your visit, there are a few restaurants across the street, including my favorite place to take visitors for lunch, Barbara’s. If you visited in the afternoon and you are more in the mood for cocktails, you can visit the rooftop bar at the Bayleaf hotel with great views of the sunset over Manila bay.