Manila, Philippines ~ 1762
San Agustin was the first Spanish stone church to be built in the Philippines. It was constructed by the Spaniard Juan Macias from 1570 through 1606. It is the oldest stone church in Manila and has survived the ravages of time and successive invasions such as the British attack of 1762. There was also an American attack in 1898 and the Japanese and American liberation war in 1945. Ultimately it has undergone six major damages since it was built. It was destroyed by fire in 1574 and 1583. Subsequently the earthquakes of 1645, 1754, 1852, and 1970 damaged the buildings interior and structure. However the major damage to the mother of all Filipino colonial churches was caused by the bombardment from fighting in Manila in 1945.
San Agustin, being the only surviving 16th century edifice it is, was taken great care of. Whenever it was damaged, it was fixed and in 1854 Luciano Oliver completely renovated it. The church has a magnificent intricately-carved door, Baroque pulpit, and an 18th century pipe organ. Hidden behind its massive, yet plain, external appearance is the oldest and most elaborately decorated Christian sanctuary existing in the Far East. The church has an inverted vault-like foundation, and was the first earthquake-proof building in stone. Also, this beautiful artifact holds exclusive crystal chandeliers bought from Paris, France. The walls were excellently painted by two Italian artists, and the choir stalls were hand carved by the original Augustinian monks.
Attached to the church are a museum and a courtyard. The museum holds many fragments pertaining to the history of the Philippines such as Legaspiís remains, and other church antiques from all around the country. Although this church, on the inside and out, signifies the importance of the Philippine Islands, it also represents the beginning of using permanent materials in contrast to indigenous, lightweight architectural products.