Miag-ao Church : A World Heritage Site

Miag-ao Church in Iloilo

While planning my short trip to Iloilo, I told myself that Miag-ao shouldn’t be excluded in my itinerary.

baroque church iloilo
Miag-ao Church

During my recent Iloilo trip, All I said was “WoW”! This province is really filled with treasures. Usually, when I’m traveling, I don’t like to go to church or do all the things that I do in my normal everyday life, but in the case of the Miag-ao Church, I don’t mind a bit. This World Heritage Site is one of the amazing Baroque Churches of the Philippines and is well worth spending some time at.

church facade
Church Facade

Iloilo is famous for its food, old churches and heritage sites that the Philippines is so well known for. One of the things that makes this baroque church different is that it incorporates these things into the actual design of the Church. The tree of life is depicted as a coconut tree! Imagine a single color bright yellowish facade of the church with a very nice design. You gotta love that.

church belfry
Miag-ao Belfry

It was built in 1786 by Spanish Missionaries and over two hundred years later, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The church is a blend of Filipino Style and Spanish Colonial design with big watch towers, the massive coconut tree of life facade, and one of the better baby Jesus’ I’ve ever seen.

iloilo churches
Baroque Church in Iloilo

This friendly little guy is riding on the shoulders of Christopher Columbus. There are also beautiful bas-reliefs of the traditional culture and life of the people of the region. The church was originally used for defense of the town back when the Moros were attacking and is supposed to be riddled with secret passages though I haven’t found any yet.

Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church
Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church

Lots of people refer to it as a fortress or a fortress church and it certainly looks like it could stand up to any kind of attack. While I didn’t attend the ongoing mass when I visited the church last week, this was a church that I really did enjoy visiting. It felt strong and I actually felt a sense of awe as I wandered the grounds.

Melo Villareal
Melo in Miag-ao

I highly recommend you pay a visit to the Miag-ao Church when you are in Iloilo. Miagao is bounded by the towns of Igbaras to the Northeast, by Guimbal to the East, by San Joaquin to the West and by Sibalom, Antique to the Northwest.

How to get there? You can reach the town in 40-minutes by bus, van or jeepney ride from Iloilo City.

  1. Francesca Ivy [Dear Me] says

    I am no Catholic but I would love to visit churches in Ilo-Ilo for their amazing architecture. I have a thing for the fine details of the baroque architecture.

  2. melo says

    @Francesca – I feel the same whenever I visit Chinese Temples and Mosques… I would recommend you visit Miag-ao.. its probably the best baroque church in the Philippines Ive seen so far:)

  3. pinaytraveljunkie says

    now that’s a gorgeous church! i gotta make iloilo my next destination!

  4. melo says

    @pinaytraveljunkie – good choice.. theres a lot more to visit in Iloilo other than the beautiful churches but I must agree.. Miag-ao church is fantabulous!!!

  5. Nhess says

    Hi, just one question, is it really just 45 mins away from Iloilo city? if we go there in the late afternoon, are there any bus/jeepneys back to Iloilo city at night? We are actually debating whether to skip Miag-ao or not because we only have a limited time in the city. I do really want to visit the church but we also need to be practical. Thanks!

  6. […] known as the Church of Saint Thomas of Villanueva, Miag-ao church is also reputable for its age. Like the Paoay Church, Miag-ao is also a Baroque Style Church. […]

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