One of the most distinctive experiences I’ve enjoyed in my travels is a private dinner on the front steps of a church. And not just any church, but the gorgeous Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, the northernmost province in the Philippines.
Ilocos Norte, 2010
Known also as San Agustín of Paoay, it is one of four churches built by the Spanish in the late 16th century that was placed on the Unesco World Heritage list in 1993 for its unusual style of architecture. A fusion of Oriental, Gothic and Baroque influences created unique structures characterized by a separate bell-tower and strong buttresses able to withstand repeated earthquakes.
As described on the UNESCO site:
The Church of San Agustín at Paoay is the most outstanding example in the Philippines of 'Earthquake Baroque'. Fourteen buttresses are ranged along the lines of a giant volute supporting a smaller one and surmounted by pyramidal finials. A pair of buttresses at the midpoint of each nave wall have stairways for access to the roof. The lower part of the apse and most of the walls are constructed of coral stone blocks, the upper levels being finished in brick, but this order is reversed on the facade. The massive coral stone bell tower, which was added half a century after the church was completed, stands at some distance from the church, again as a protection against damage during earthquakes.
Construction of the church started in 1704 and was completed in 1894 by the Augustinian friars. The bell tower next to the church dates to 1793 and served as an observation point of the Katipuneros during the Philippine Revolution in 1896 and later by the guerrillas during the Japanese occupation.
It’s no wonder Paoay Church was also declared a national treasure.
As you can see from the photos, we arrived at the church after the sun was down, and while our party explored the grounds, the lights were turned on and the tables were set up for us. It was just a few days after Christmas, so the tree was still standing.
This post is linked with ABC Wednesday where the letter of the week is C. Go check out how other interesting C posts.