The cathedrals of Notre Dame in Ho Chi Minh City and St. Joseph in Hanoi are major attractions in both of the Vietnamese cities, mainly due to its Gothic architecture that reminds every visitor of medieval Europe. San Sebastian Church also known as Basílica Menor de San Sebastián is the Philippines’ one and only church made entirely of steel and a perfect example of a neo-Gothic architecture.
San Sebastian Church – Neo-Gothic Style Interior of The Church
The current structure of the church was completed in 1891, the entire church is made from fabricated steel that came all the way from Belgium. It is one of the few major structures in Manila that wasn’t completely damaged during World War II and the intricate details inside is as impressive as what you’ll see in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The church can be found in Plaza del Carmen at the heart of Quiapo, Manila near the university belt. You can imagine how beautiful it is a century ago when you walk from R. Hidalgo St, in Quiapo with several ancestral houses on both sides of the street and at the end is the view of San Sebastian Church, the location was perfectly planned.
San Sebastian Church – The detailed ceiling interior of the church.
The true spirit of Gothic revival in the church is evident on its pulpit and the shape of its stained glass windows. There was even a rumor that, Gustave Eiffel, the French engineer behind the Eiffel Tower and the steel structure within the Statue of Liberty, was involved in the design and construction of San Sebastián, but this was never confirmed.
San Sebastian Church – The Pulpit is no longer in use.
San Sebastian Church has been nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was designated as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1973.
The Altar of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
For 400 years since the first structure has been built, it enshrines the image of our Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. San Sebastian Church is under the care of The Order of the Augustinian Recollects, who also operate a school next to the basilica.In recent years, San Sebastian Church has encountered threats to its structural integrity, its main beams have been beset by rust. A recent article published in CNN calls to raise fund to save the church from further damage.
Stained Glass Windows Painted with Stories of The Passion of Christ
The church is open daily. To visit, you can go down from Legarda Station of LRT Line 2 and walk towards Recto Avenue passing by Mendiola towards Plaza Del Carmen. Photography is allowed but not during the celebration of the holy mass.