Tuesday, January 15, 2013

santa maria church, ilocos sur

There are eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines. The Tubbataha Reef. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. The historic town of Vigan. The rice terraces of the Cordilleras. And four Baroque churches: San Agustin in Manila, Miag-ao in Iloilo, Paoay in Ilocos Norte, and this one.

Finally, I can say that I've been to all of them.

Dizizit! Iglesia de Señora de la Asuncion, a.k.a. Santa Maria Church, in Ilocos Sur.

After lunch at Café Bigaa in Vigan, we drove south to the municipality of Santa Maria, one hour away. The church is on top of a hill. There are many, many steps to climb.

We didn't really feel like all that exercise after our post-meal nap in the van, so our driver very kindly dropped us off right at the church's back door.

I love buttresses!

I was so happy to see that the original stonework wasn't plastered and painted over.

Each of the four UNESCO World Heritage churches is very different, and Santa Maria's façade is the most austere among them. Reminds me of Mexican architecture somehow.

The interior is magnificent. Note the floor tiles. And the gently arching roof without any visible supports. That's what buttresses are for.

Naturally, I had to shoot this church in black and white, too. The octagonal bell tower is very obviously leaning to one side-- a bit worrisome in case of a strong earthquake. I'm surprised no one has ever mentioned it.

Unusually, the convent was built right in front, which makes it very difficult to take a picture of the whole structure. The anterior has an elevated walkway jutting out of it. Detracts from the simple and graceful lines of the church, I think.

I didn't think that I would ever be able to visit all of the country's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I really didn't plan to; things just happened, just like this trip. Thanks to the Australian Holleros who let me tag along on their Ilocandia adventure. And thanks especially for letting me take over the itinerary. So, where are we going next?

Read more about the Baroque churches of the Philippines here.

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