Churches to Visit in Iloilo: The City’s Pilgrimage Sites

It has been part of the Christian culture to go on pilgrimage during Lent Season. The Philippines is one of the Christian countries in the world and most Filipinos are either Christians or Roman Catholics. During the Lenten season (Holy Week), one of our traditions is to visit 7 churches apart from fasting. This practice is known as Visit Iglesia. With that being said, as a Roman Catholic, I vow to seven churches in different parts of the country during Holy Week. This time, I went to Iloilo to go on pilgrimage and to check out the historical churches of the city! Hence, I listed down some of the old churches to visit in Iloilo.

About Iloilo City

Iloilo City– one of the most historical provinces in the Philippines. It is the home of Dinagyang Festival (which is celebrated every 4th week of January). More to that, this is where you can discover lots of unspoiled beaches, interesting and historical towns, delicious delicacies, and friendly locals. These qualities and reasons make Iloilo an interesting place to visit! But, apart from those reasons, Iloilo is also home to historical and centuries-old churches to visit which makes you want to see more of the province.

Churches to Visit in Iloilo

The Miagao Church

Also known as the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church, indeed one of the most prestigious churches in Iloilo City. In fact, most of the travelers always include this church as part of their itinerary or travel plans when they visit Iloilo.

Located in Miagao, Iloilo, Miagao church is the Roman Catholic parish church which was constructed for 10 years. As a matter of fact, the Miagao Church is one of the World Heritage Sites in UNESCO’s list. It is due to its one of a kind architectural design, this has been one of the country’s gems as it is one of the best Baroque Romanesque Churches of the Philippines.

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The facade of Miagao Church
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As you take a look at its exterior part, the church has two huge bell towers on each side. Its architectural design is truly a striking one! If you would look closer at its facade, you might notice some coconut trees on it. They say that the coconut tree symbolizes “the tree of life”. You might see the sculpture of St. Christopher holding on to the coconut tree. He is also carrying the Child Jesus. Underneath, there is an image of St. Thomas of Villanueva.

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Inside, the church looks plain yet stunning. Also, the church was a buttress against Moro raiders during the Spanish colonial era.

San Joaquin Church

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The exterior part of the church
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Inside San Joaquin Church

Located in San Joaquin, Iloilo, San Joaquin Church is one of the oldest and most historic churches in the city. In 1974, the National Historical Institute declared San Joaquin Church as the National Cultural Treasure.

Situated on the hill of the town of San Joaquin, its architectural design makes the church more interesting! Built in 1869, the church was built during the Spanish era. It is made of limestone and corals that come from the town of Igbaras.

If you take a look at its facade, there are some soldiers sculptured on its wall. Its great design symbolizes the triumph of the Spanish army over the Moors. Known as the Battle of Tetouan, San Joaquin church’s facade depicts the Spanish army’s victory.

Guimbal Church

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Outside Guimbal Church

Built in 1774, Guimbal Church or St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. Named after the holy saint of souls, St. Nicholas Church is located in the municipality of Guimbal, Iloilo.

In addition, the yellow-colored limestone and coral stones that come from the island of Guimaras make the facade of the church looks yellowish.

The bell tower is the highest tower in the city of Iloilo. The church’s belfry sets out as the watchtower in order to protect the entire town during the Spanish era.

The Molo Church

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The feminist church of the Philippines

Known as the feminist church of the Philippines, Molo church or St. Anne Parish church is a heritage site in the town of Molo. In addition, Molo Church is a Gothic-style church located in the city of Iloilo. As a matter of fact, this church is one of the most popular sites to visit in the city.

The facade of the church is looking simply beautiful. You will notice the two pointed bell towers on each side.

You might wonder why it is being called the feminist church. It is mainly because the patron saints inside the church are all females. Once you get inside the church, you will definitely feel the solemnity of it. It is amazing how they have preserved for so many years! In 1992, Molo Church was declared as a national landmark by National Historical Institue.

More to that, the church didn’t only serve as the religious site for the people in Iloilo, but it also sets out as an evacuation center during World War II. This is not my first time visiting Molo Church. The first time I visited the church was in 2018 together with my friends. Surprisingly, I still had the same feeling when I visited the church once again. The beauty of it never fails to amaze me.

By only looking at the church, you will really fall in love with it. Its magnificent structure, solemnity, and history will make you feel more fascinated about it! This is one of the most popular churches to visit if you want to go on pilgrimage in Iloilo.

The Molo Park

Furthermore, there is the Molo Park facing the Molo Church. You will notice that it is also in a Gothic-style. Statues of the Ancient Roman Goddesses. Oh, my favorite is Aphrodite!

On my second visit here, I lounged in the park for hours. I totally enjoyed watching people around the area. Also, I really loved looking at the church from the outside.

Jaro Metropolitan Church

The Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral is also one of the oldest churches in the country. It possesses great architecture. It is in a Gothic-Romanesque style, and probably a site that is definitely worth to visit around the city.

The exterior is beautifully furnished with its uniquely Gothic-style. In addition, you can see the statue of the Lady of the Candles at the entrance of the church. Most people believe that it is miraculous.

In response to the Molo Church, Jaro Church is the “male church” version. Why? Once you get inside, all-male patron saints are recognizable on each side of the pillars. The interior is just so amazing that I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The murals of the patron saints are clearly visible on the ceilings.

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Inside Jaro Church

Campanario de Jaro

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More to that, there is also one thing that you will get amazed by the Jaro Church. Its belfry tower can be seen across the street facing the church.

Aside from that, the Jaro belfry tower also served as a watchtower during the Spanish colonial era.

San Jose Parish Church

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The San Jose Church

Indeed one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. Apart from the five churches I visited, I was amazed by the beauty of the San Jose Church.

San Jose Church – the first church in Iloilo established around 1607 by the Jesuits and went under renovation a lot all throughout the years.

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The interior design of the church is seemingly plain yet filled with Renaissance design. Hellenic ornaments are also noticeable inside the church. Another interesting about the church is, San Jose features the image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary and a replica of Santo Nino de Cebu. Thus, this is where the Dinagyang Festival all started as a token of respect for the Santo Nino de Cebu.

Aside from these six churches I visited in Iloilo, there are still a lot of ancient churches to visit. I realized that Iloilo shows off a lot of old churches that are architecturally beautiful! The striking centuries-old churches of Iloilo only manifest that the city itself is rich in culture and interesting, historical landmarks! If you want to know more about the history of the city, you should go on a pilgrimage when you are in Iloilo. Your trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting the old churches around the city of Iloilo!!

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About the Author

Ara Patria

A travel blogger in the Philippines and a K-pop enthusiast, Ara Patria (The Adventuress) pursues her passion and love for traveling. She’s been blogging for years, where she writes about her own travel experiences and promotes the wonders of the Philippines. Not only does she promote the beauty of her country, but she also focuses on promoting sustainable tourism. She dreams of traveling the world and inspiring other people through her own written works and captured moments with her camera.

The Adventuress is a travel blogger with a purpose. She aims to inspire other people through her personal experiences, stories, and lenses. Outside her blogging world, she is an education, an SEO specialist, and TEFL/TESOL certified.

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