a stone building with a clock tower with Manila Cathedral in the background
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica: My Visit

ven though the sun was shining, the air was rather steamy; and despite my wearing a T-shirt and jeans, I was sweating because I had been walking much of the day — including along the fortress walls of Intramuros — ever since the flight on which I was a passenger concluded very early that morning.

The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica was the site of an ideal respite where I can relax for a few minutes in somewhat cooler air while admiring the architecture — and its doors were open to all.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I sat in a pew towards the rear of the church and observed a few other people on their knees as they prayed.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

There were men on scaffolding, working on what appeared to be either maintaining or restoring the basilica.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

In addition to the statues, portals and carvings, I especially noticed the detail in the stained glass windows around the church as the noise from the streets outside attempted to infiltrate the quiet atmosphere inside. There is something about the colors and intricacy of stained glass which seem to require it to be a requisite aspect of religious institutions around the world regardless of the affiliation and denomination.

In a not-so-subtle twist of irony, modern flat-screen monitors line either side of the historic church.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio — now known as Pope Francis — visited this church earlier this year to celebrate his first Papal Mass in English, Filipino, and Latin while he was in Manila. He also rode in a special custom-designed Jeepney as part of his trip.

This was not the first time that a pope of the Catholic Church has visited the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica, as Pope Paul VI celebrated Mass while visiting in 1970; and Pope John Paul II reportedly visited in 1981.

The cathedral was originally known as the Church of Manila when it was officially established in 1571 in order to introduce Christianity in the Philippines.

There were actually eight cathedrals in its history due to repeated destruction by wars and natural events over the centuries, with the present cathedral dating back to 1958.

If you happen to be in the Intramuros area of Manila — more specifically, Plaza de Roma — consider visiting this cathedral and immerse yourself in its rich history while appreciating its architecture.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

All photographs ©2014 by Brian Cohen.


Manila Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica

Cabildo cor. Beaterio Streets, Intramuros,
Manila, Philippines 1002
(632) 5273093, 5271796, 5273889 or 5283876
(632) 5360192 — Fax
mlacathedral@yahoo.com — e-mail messages

Getting There

Limited parking is available across the street and near the cathedral.

I would recommend walking there — especially if you are already visiting the Intramuros area — so that you would not have to deal with traffic in Manila.

Ticket Prices

Although donations are always welcome, admission into the cathedral is free of charge to all.

Hours of Operation

Schedules vary by holiday and purpose. For example, office services are open Tuesday through Saturday between 8:00 in the morning to 11:30 in the morning and between 2:00 in the afternoon to 4:30 in the afternoon; Sunday between 8:00 in the morning to 11:30 in the morning — but closed on Mondays and holidays.

There are separate schedules for such church services as Mass, baptism and confession.

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