Manila Cathedral History

Manila Cathedral History

This year 2021, the Archdiocese of Manila marks the 442nd anniversary of the establishment of Manila as the first diocese in the Philippines.


The images are the architectural evolution of the very first cathedral in the Philippines from 1581 to 1958.

Manila Cathedral (1581)
Built from different materials such as wood, bamboo, and nipa. This Cathedral church was destroyed in 1583 by a fire that razed the city. The flames spread all over Manila, destroying many houses and structures of the same simple materials.

manila cathedral 1581
Manila Cathedral (1581) | @DTCAM via @iglesiaarkitektura2020

Manila Cathedral (1760)
After two centuries, a Baroque-style Cathedral stood under the headship of a Florentine architect named Juan de Uguccioni. Its facade closely resembled the Church of II Gesu in Rome, Italy. In 1852, an earthquake hit Manila that collapsed the Cathedral to the ground.

manila cathedral 1760
Manila Cathedral (1760) | @DTCAM via @iglesiaarkitektura2020

Manila Cathedral (1858)
In 1858, Engineer Nicolas Valdes renounced the Baroque design and introduced Neoclassicism, but in 1863 a strong earthquake struck Manila again.

manila cathedral 1858
Manila Cathedral (1858) | @DTCAM via @iglesiaarkitektura2020

Manila Cathedral (1879)
In 1879, Architect Don Vicente Serrano y Salaverri employed a Romanesque-Byzantine style. The main facade is graced by statues of famous saints sculpted in Molave wood. In 1945, the cathedral was bombed along with the rest of Intramuros during the Battle of Liberation.

manila cathedral 1879
Manila Cathedral (1879) | @DTCAM via @iglesiaarkitektura2020

Manila Cathedral (1958)
In 1958, the cathedral rose from the desolate ruins of the old cathedral. Architect Fernando Ocampo designed its base from the previous structure. The cathedral featured a new bell-clock tower replacing the long-lived octagonal tower. The statue of the saints was recreated using Roman travertine stone. On April 27, 1981, Pope John Paul II elevated the cathedral into a Minor Basilica.

manila cathedral 1958
Manila Cathedral (1958) | @DTCAM via @iglesiaarkitektura2020

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