• Santa Maria Church in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

  • “Unlike other town churches in the Philippines, which conform to the Spanish tradition of sitting them on the central plaza, the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria with its convento are on a hill surrounded by a defensive wall. Also unusual are the sitting of the convento parallel to the facade of the church and that of the separate bell tower (characteristic of Philippine-Hispanic architecture) at the midpoint of the nave wall. This was dictated by the hill on which it is located The brick church follows the standard Philippine layout, with a monumental facade masking a straight roof-line covering a long rectangular building. It is alleged to be built on a solid raft as a precaution against earthquake damage. The walls are devoid of ornament but have delicately carved side entrances and strong buttresses.

    The mission at Santa Maria, founded in 1765 on a narrow, flat plain between the sea and the central mountain range of Luzon, was one of the most successful Augustinian houses in the Philippines. It served as the base for the Christianization of the northern parts of the archipelago.”