On January 24, 1571, the City of Manila was established after native settlers Rajah Sulayman and Rajah Matanda lost their defense of Maynilad to Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi.
To celebrate the new Spanish settlement and to endow spiritual administration in the Philippines under secular Juan de Vivero, the Church of Manila was established.
It’s a church that was built to last. The first church (1571) made of nipa and bamboo was ravaged by fire in 1583. The seven reincarnations were all damaged by typhoons, demolitions and periodical earthquakes. However, it was during the Battle of Manila (1945) that the whole structure was totally destroyed. The present cathedral was constructed from 1954 to 1958 under the supervision of Filipino architect Fernando H. Ocampo.
The cathedral serves both as the Prime Basilica of the Philippines and highest seat of the archbishop in the country. It is the final resting place for former prelates who have served the Archdiocese of Manila and was recently used as a venue for requiem mass for former President of the Philippines Corazon Aquino.
Manila Cathedral Highlights
Manila Cathedral is considered as a grand masterpiece of architecture. Every detailed wall carving, door, panel, portal and even its attractive stained glass has its own story.
The main facade is adorned by statues of famous saints sculpted in roman travertine stone. The main altar is supported by pillars representing St. Catherine Labourne, St. Lawrence of Brindisi, St. Pius V and St. Leo IX. The tabernacle of the main altar represents Mary in the act of receiving the body of Jesus from the hands of St. John and the altar communion rail consists of fine rosette orange, cream and white marble. At the left side of the main altar is the Episcopal Throne which is the seat of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Manila. It is made of the richest marble from Carrara, Italy. The crypt located below the main altar shelters the mortal remains of past archbishops of Manila.
Door panels, sculptures, altarpieces, wrought-iron grille gates, dividers, chandeliers, and other forms of metal craft are mostly bronze. There are 134 stained-glass windows throughout the whole structure. These beautiful and famous stained-glass windows are not only for aesthetic purposes, they depict deep understanding of the Faith. Another distinct article of the church is its central door where important episodes in the history of Manila Cathedral are artistically reflected. Religious souvenirs can be bought at the ground belfry.
The church's Neo-Romanesque artistic mirage is one of the reasons why it is a favourite venue for weddings and other Catholic celebrations.
- Opening Hours: Everyday 07:30 – 21:00
- Location: Cabildo cor. Beaterio St., Intramuros, Manila
- How to get there: Driving directions to Manila Cathedral From Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 Pasay, Philippines take the skyway and exit onto Pres. Sergio Osmeña Sr. Hwy/Radial Road continue driving about three km. Turn left onto President Quirino Avenue continue for about one km, turn right onto Roxas Boulevard two km, continue onto Bonifacio Drive, at the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Andres Soriano Jr Ave 240 m turn right onto General Luna Street and Manila Cathedral is on the left.