STA. MARIA CHURCH
The Church of Santa Maria is found at the town of Santa Maria in the province of Ilocos Sur, about an hour away from Vigan City. This magnificent ancient structure is located in the town’s narrow hill overlooking the poblacion (town proper) and its vast plains and hills. The church compound is made up of the church itself, the belfry and the convent in front of it.
Built starting in 1810, it was believed to be the place where the Blessed Virgin’s image was frequently found after series of disappearance during the Spanish colonial period. (Sounds very familiar to other stories in the islands as well.) The church was made by the Ilocanos under the supervision of the Agustinian friars (therefore it’s an Agustinian church, same as with the rest of UNESCO’s baroque churches in the country!). The church is dedicated to its patroness Our Lady of Assumption or La Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion.
The church itself is narrow, made up mostly of red bricks, stone and lime. In detail, the church’s decors on the wall have its floral design. The façade itself, although not intricate, yet simply has a rectangle column with massive circular buttresses on its side soaring towards the urn finials on the top of the pediment. The façade of the church is blocked by a bridge linking the church and the convent some few meters away. The buttresses on its sides serve as its protection against possible collapse.
The narrowness of the hill has somehow made this impressive and massive structure a bit smaller compared to its sisters in Ilocos. However, this factor was one of the reasons why it is one of the most outstanding in its simplicity of its baroque features.
The hexagonal belfry on the other hand is separated from the church itself. One popular theory states that the parish priests tend to move away the belfries to avoid major damages during earthquakes which rattle the country. It was later remodeled however it began to lean after the foundations have settled…well a bit leaning but it’s still safe to go there though.
Because of its uniqueness in execution of the baroque architecture, culture and historical value, it was designated as a national landmark by the National Historical Institute during 1970’s and was finally designated as part of the World Heritage List by 1994. Truly, it is a landmark that Ilocanos are proud and behold of. Too bad I had a short time and the church was closed…haven’t seen the interiors of the church.
All photos below from: nboi.blogspot.com