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I love to travel just to explore new things in life from breathtaking natural wonders, interesting historical sites, delicious food, friendly people and colorful culture. I treasure every moment in traveling by writing in my journal, taking photos and publish it in my travel blog.
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Friday, March 8, 2013

Visita Iglesia: Baroque Churches of Laguna Loop

There are different traditions in commemorating the Lent season. One of the common Filipino customs during Holy Week is the Visita Iglesia. It is the custom of visiting seven to fourteen churches where people pray the Stations of the Cross with the stations are divided among the churches. According to Wikipedia, Visita Iglesia is customarily observed during Maundy Thursday but today, it is commonly practiced in any day of the Holy Week.

The historical province of Laguna is also popular because of the ancient Baroque churches. These churches were built during the Spanish era and it was located in various towns and cities in the province. Therefore, Laguna is an ideal venue to conduct a visitation to seven churches or Visita Iglesia because of the majestic architecture and the serene ambiance of the province that teemed with the captivating landscapes and the abundance of nature in the province.
Shrine of Saint Anthony de Padua
Pila, Laguna

Located in the town of heritage houses, the Shrine of Saint Anthony de Padua is the first Antonine house of worship in the Philippines. It was built in 1618 but the town was transferred from Pagalangan to its present site in 1800 in order to avoid frequent floods. The church was completed in 1849. In addition, the first printing press was established under Tomas Pinpin and Domingo Loag. The church was located in the town plaza, adjacent to the town hall and museum.
Immaculate Conception Church
Santa Cruz, Laguna

Within a five to ten minute travel from Pila, you can reach the busy and progressive provincial capital of Santa Cruz. In this town you can visit the Immaculate Conception Church. It was originally constructed of stone in 1608 and enlarged in 1672. It was destroyed by fire in 1945 during the Liberation and reconstructed in 1948. It is located in the town center of Santa Cruz.
Saint Mary Magdalene Church
Magdalena, Laguna

Nestled in the lush and verdant foothills of Banahaw, you can visit the peaceful and historical town of Magdalena. Within ten minutes from Santa Cruz, you can reach the town plaza of Magdalena and you can visit the St. Mary Magdalene Church. It was completed in 1829. It plays a significant role in the Philippine Revolution of 1896 where Emilio Jacinto sought refuge in the church after he was shot and wounded near the Maimpis River.
Saint John the Baptist Church
Liliw, Laguna

You can visit the St. John the Baptist Church located in Liliw, the town which is popular for its slippers and footwear. The church was built in 1605 after the town was separated from Nagcarlan. The church is popular because of its elegant bricked facade as well with the solemn interior.
Saint Bartholomew the Apostle Church
Nagcarlan, Laguna

Few minutes away from Liliw, we have the St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church in Nagcarlan. The first church was built in 1583 made of light materials. The second church was built in 1752 which is made of stone. There also stories that there is a tunnel from the church to the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery which is the secret meeting place of the Katipuneros in the 1896 Revolution. In addition, this church is the setting of the defunct fantasy series "Kampanerang Kuba".
Saint Gregory the Great Church
Majayjay, Laguna

One of the tallest churches and a National Historical Treasure in the Philippines, the St. Gregory the Great Church was built in 1571 in the highland town of Majayjay. It was made up of nipa and bamboo and its church made of stone was completed in 1616 to 1649. This church is popular because of its stunning height and the Baroque architecture which was made during the Spanish era.
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish
Luisiana, Laguna

This church is located after crossing the zigzag roads of Luisiana which is known as "The Little Baguio of Laguna". The town is located in the highlands of Sierra Madre and it is popular because of its cold climate and its town festival called "Pandan Festival" because of its products made of pandan. The church was built somewhere in 19th century and it looks like in a process of reconstruction when I visited the place because the facade looks newly construct.
Parish of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Chruch
Cavinti, Laguna

Located in the rugged terrain of the province, Cavinti is the home of famous Pagsanjan Falls. In the town center, there is the 400-year old Parish of the Transfiguration of Our Lord which is one of the old churches in Laguna. The church was built in 1621. It was destroyed by the Chinese uprising in 1639. The present structure was destroyed by an earthquake in 1824 and the tower collapsed in 1880. The walls were cracked in 1890 and 1937. Today, it is one of the Baroque churches in Laguna which is still standing after many centuries.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
Pagsanjan, Laguna

Pagsanjan is known as the Tourist Capital of Laguna. In the town center located in the highway going to Lumban and Cavinti, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is located. It was named after their patron of the town which is the Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was originally made of bamboo and nipa when the church was founded in 1687. It was reconstructed in 1690 and improved in 1853. It was destroyed during the Second World War. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a gift from Mexico in 1948.
San Sebastian Church
Lumban, Laguna

Lumban is one of the oldest towns in Laguna and it was a center for missionary activities in the province. The San Sebastian Church is located in the town center near the Pagsanjan River. Rev. Juan de Plasencia ministered here in 1578 and the original church was made of wood and thatch. The first stone church was built in 1600. *
Saint John the Baptist Church
Kalayaan, Laguna

This church is located in Longos, a small barrio in the lakeshore of Kalayaan. The church was built in 1669 by the Franciscan friars. Its bell was one of the oldest in the country which was cast in 1642.
Saint James the Apostle Church
Paete, Laguna

In the town of colorful woodcrafts and artistic woodcarvers, the Saint James the Apostle Church was located in the town center of Paete. The church also offers the view of Sierra Madre as a background. The town was founded in 1580 and the church was built in 1646. The church was also a gathering area of wood sculptures of images of Jesus Christ and the saints for the Procession in Holy Week.
Saint Peter of Alcantara Church
Pakil, Laguna

Pakil is a town which is famous for Turumba Festival, delicate woodcarvings and the old Saint Peter of Alcantara Church. The church was originally made of nipa and it was established in 1676. The stone church was completed in 1767 and the belfry was made in 1777.
Nuestra Senora de Candelaria Church
Mabitac, Laguna

The Nuestra Senora de Candelaria Church was located in the hilltop in the town of Mabitac. This church is unique because you need to take the one hundred twenty-six steps to the hilltop church. The church was built in 1613 under the Franciscan missionaries. It was destroyed by earthquakes and the belfry of the church was remained standing after many centuries. The church is also located near the Battle of Mabitac historical marker. In addition, you can see the panoramic view of Mabitac from the hilltop church. *

Saint Paul the Hermit Cathedral
San Pablo City

The Saint Paul the Hermit Cathedral was first established in 1586 and its present structure was completed in 1714. San Pablo City is the diocese in the province of Laguna where the cathedral was located. *

You can read my post in Perspectives in White Scratch Papers entitled Visita Iglesia: A Pilgrimage to the Baroque Churches of Laguna which tells about my personal experience in visiting the Spanish era churches in the province.

Date of Travel: April 5, 2012

* The churches of Lumban, Mabitac and San Pablo City are not included in Visita Iglesia tour last April 5, 2012. The visit to the first two churches is part of Laguna Loop Tour from October to December 2011 while the visit to San Pablo Cathedral was happened on February 2012


  1. wow. first time i heard about the visit iglesia. it has nothing to do with the iglesia ni cristo ba? grabe pag 14 churches you hear mass siguro twice a day in the whole week in a different church plus travel time or you just go there, look then leave na? weird naman pag ganun..

  2. Hope to visit these churches down South soon. Which reminds me, I need to do my Visita Iglesia.. >.<

    :) Erika

  3. There is something about Saint John the Baptist Church of Liliw, Laguna, its beauty probably. That is the only church I've seen from the list you have.

  4. It's amazing how those structures are so old yet still sturdy. I haven't visited a lot of churches in the Philippines simply because we go to temples... :D

  5. Indeed, Laguna is home of old and new churches like what I have watched in documentaries... ♥

  6. I hope you enjoyed your Visita Iglesia to Laguna. I think I might visit Laguna too next Holy Week! :)

  7. Baroque architectural style of constructing any edifice particularly Churches reminds everyone of the past. I admire this kind of engineering works.

  8. Old churches really look so elegant. It's nice that you were able to visit them.

  9. Wow, Laguna is really a historic place as you can see on their churches. It is reminiscent of the baroque architecture that was very popular in 1500-1600. Thanks for sharing. Love to visit this churches one day.

  10. We usually do our Visita Iglesia in Bulacan. The Immaculate Conception Parish looks like our hometown's church. I love visiting old churches also, maybe because I'm pretty amazed with their architecture.

  11. The Spanish influence is really apparent in the northern and middle part of the Philippines. Here in Davao, there aren't too many old or baroque churches. I have had my tour of old churches before when I was in Bohol and it was a different experience.

  12. They should really have a heritage tour in Laguna so people can see this churches too.

  13. I think these churches are great sites for fashion photoshoots. The surreal structure makes a dramatic effect for the backsplash. :)

  14. Hi. Pwede ko bang sundin as itinerary tong post mo? magkakalapit lang ba sila and pag pumunta kami pwede namin sundin from top to bottom churches na post mo? thanks!

    1. depende po kung saan po yung pinakamalapit. yan po pwede nyo po yan sundin basta kabisado po yun route.

    2. Thanks po sa reply. galing po kasi kaming Binan laguna, what can you suggest po na pagkakasunod sunod? salamat

    3. Pwede din from Pila - Santa Cruz - Magdalena - Majayjay - Liliw - Nagcarlan - San Pablo City para 7 Churches.

    4. Take National Highway from Binan pero matagal po bago makarating ng Calamba. Mga one hour po yun bago sa SM Calamba. Mas mabilis pag SLEX via Mamplasan or Carmona Exit. Then punta na po sa Calamba Exit tapos po makikita po dun yun SM Calamba (yun papunta ng Los Banos, Bay, Calauan at Victoria) para makarating ng Pila.

  15. Many thanks to your blogpost. We followed your route. However, once we reached Liliw waze app prompted us to go back the zigzag to reach Majayjay. Since we started late and dusk was drawing near we crossed off Majayjay and proceeded to Nagcarlan then San Pablo. We lacked 1 church for the 7 churches but it was so worth the trip. Specially fond of Pila. Such a quaint town. Thanks again.

  16. May available pa rin ba na promo tour for maundy thursday


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