WHERE: Santa Maria Church (Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion Church), Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur
DATE OF TRAVEL: September 21, 2007
WHY YOU SHOULD GO:
1) The Santa Maria Church is an architectural marvel.
2) It is one of the four churches in the Philippines that is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Santa Maria Church was built on 1769 in the town of Santa Maria in Ilocos Sur. The church was built for Our Lady Of The Assumption and it was built on top of a hill. They say that they built the church there because a long time ago a statue of the Virgin Mary from another place would disappear and find itself perched on a guava tree which was on top of this hill.
To get to the church you must climb 85 steps of piedra china, but the short climb is worth the sweat. On top of the hill you will see the church, the convent and the bell tower. The church with its thick buttresses for reinforcement is considered as an earthquake baroque church. The bell tower which was built on 1810 is pagoda-like in appearance and is built distance away from the main church to protect it in case the tower falls during an earthquake.
All in all, this is a must see, not only for its religious significance but also its architectural beauty. It is one of the four UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
HOW TO GET THERE:
There are buses from both Manila or Vigan that you can take to reach Santa Maria. The town of Santa Maria is on the way from Manila to Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
TIP: Walk around the church including the other side where you'll see steps going down to what seems to be an endless path leading to "The Secret Garden". If you have time, go down the steps and explore the nature that sits just next to this wonderful church!