San Sebastian Church

San Sebastian Church, Manila

San Sebastian Church
Architectural Buildings • Religious Sites
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

142 reviews
Very good

United Kingdom71 contributions
Nov 2012 • Couples
The church is lovely but be warned - we got mugged in the street outside with plenty of people looking on. We are lucky as he got away with nothing after a struggle and exchange of punches. No one came to help and we had to jump into a taxi to escape. It was at night and we were dressed quite smart. So be careful. Don't wear expensive jewellery, hang on very tight to your bag and only carry what you would be prepared to lose. Sorry to be negative but that's the reality of Manila. Best bet is to have a car and driver take you and wait for you wherever you go.
Written November 26, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Luzon, Philippines15,280 contributions
Jun 2014 • Solo
The San Sebastian Church is my favorite in terms of architectural design. It is a splendid example of Baroque and Neo-Gothic style. Aside from being a minor basilica the San Sebastian Church is also a National Historical Landmark. The uniqueness of this church lies in the fact that it is the only steel church in Asia.
Written November 12, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Tagum City, Philippines4,205 contributions
Sep 2012 • Couples
This cathedral was made completely of steel and was a worldwide marvel when it was completed 121 years ago. We can see today, and impressive array of ornamental and decorative motifs - Gothic style with two high, tapering and graceful steeples, an artistic pulpit, carved figures and beautiful chandeliers inside.

This was decided to have it constructed of imported steel in pre-fabricated pieces that would make it earthquake resistant that was inaugurated in 1891.
Written September 30, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Makati, Philippines295 contributions
Jan 2016 • Friends
I went to mass here. and all i can say is that Im not going back anymore. there is no ventilation . A kid can suffocate here
Written January 20, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Cherry Valley, CA412 contributions
On October 14, 2014, at around 5 pm or so, I was walking up Roxas Blvd along Manila Bay, towards the ferris wheel. There were many people hanging around, some just lounging, some were fishing in the bay. I had just passed Aristocrats Restaurant when I was approached by 2 women, a chubby light-skinned Filipina with a round face, that looked to be in her early 30's and about 5 feet tall, with dyed light brown hair that was just past her shoulders, and the other looked to be in her 60's and was very petite, maybe 4'9, with a darker complexion and short black hair. She was dressed in a purple top, and what looked to be a traditional Filipino style purple skirt, and purple plastic thong sandals. The younger woman complimented me on my green dress, she said green was her favorite color. She also said she liked my height, and how did I get so tall? She was wearing a t-shirt that accentuated her bulbous belly, and jean shorts. The 2 women asked me what my name was and told me theirs', the younger chubby one was named Karyn, and the older petite one was named Imelda. They asked if this was my first visit to Manila and I replied that it was. I asked if they were visiting Manila as well and they told me that they had had to evacuate their home in Legazpi, south of Mayon volcano, that the impending eruptions had led to volcanic ash contaminating the air and their water supply. They asked me whether I was alone, and if I had any plans. I said I didn't. They said they were on their way to visit a church made of all metal and said I should see the church and ride in a jeepney, and asked if I would like to come along. I took some selfies with Karyn since she was seated next to me in the jeepney, and she warned me about letting others see expensive phones. She said people snatch phones out of jeepneys all the time, and necklaces also. She looked at my necklace and asked what it was made of. I told her it was white gold. In retrospect, I should have said it was tinfoil. She was wearing a white gold ring with a small white diamond set in it on her left middle finger. Imelda said she had researched how to get to this all metal church, but when we got there, it seemed like she had been there before. She halfheartedly walked me around the church and then we went outside. I placed some money in the donation box outside, lit a candle, and placed it in the candlelabra, and prayed for my deceased loved ones. Imelda took pictures of me with my camera while I was lighting the votive. We all walked back inside the church and Imelda and Karyn both touched the holy water and prayed. When we left the church, I asked a security guard to take a few photos of the three of us, with San Sebastian church in the background. Imelda and Karyn walked around like they knew the area very well, and we ended up at a small non-descript local shop that served beer and had a karaoke machine. Karyn and Imelda insisted that I have some beer. Imelda said she was very stressed about having to evacuate her home and needed to relax with a beer, and I should drink with her. Karen and Imelda wanted to sing karaoke, but the shop was obviously closing soon, so we went to Golden Banana Eatery. Imelda said her male relative would be joining us, but she said she didn't tell him they were with a foreign guest, as he was very shy, and still single. We ordered a few rounds of San Miguel, lechon, mami, buttered chicken, and sang several karaoke songs. Karyn went to 7-11 during dinner, but was gone for quite some time. She had some candy in her hand when she came back and fed it to me. I went to the toilet once while we were at Golden Banana Eatery. Yes, my glass was unattended. A few rounds of beer will not normally make me feel even slightly intoxicated, mind you. I remember paying 500 pesos of the 1100 peso bill, because I ordered the majority of the food and ate most of it. I vaguely remember Karyn taking my necklace off, and me grabbing it from her fat hand and stuffing it in my pouch. I remember walking out of the Golden Banana Eatery, and I think Karyn was holding my hand, which I thought was strange.
I also had to go to the atm, but I was very groggy at that point and didn't know why I was at the atm in the first place because I had cash in my wallet, and I noticed Karyn was peering at the keypad. Perhaps I had been coerced into going to the atm? I told her I needed privacy when I saw her keep looking over my shoulder. I don't remember anything after this. I have a bunch of receipts that say no money was dispensed due to incorrect pin entry, thank Buddha. If I remember correctly, I had $22, 2500 baht, and 7,000 pesos in my wallet before i ran into Karyn and Imelda. I must have fallen down at some point because I have a scrape on my right elbow and a small abrasion on my right pinky finger. I remember bits of staggering into Tune Hotel Ermita lobby, and blacking out. I woke up fully clothed, alone, and in my hotel bed. The next day, I was very very groggy and went downstairs to buy food at 7-11, but struggled to walk. The 7-11 clerk said i owed her 160 pesos from the previous night, so I paid her. I had a few hundred pesos left in my wallet, but everything else was cleared out. My white gold necklace, worth $250, was also gone. All the photos of Karyn, Imelda, and I, had been deleted. I'm surprised they hadn't taken my camera or my cellphones. The 7-11 security guard asked me if I remembered what had happened the previous night. I was so groggy I didn't think to ask him why? I even missed my flight to Puerto Princesa City that day because I was so disoriented.
I've traveled solo through all of Southeast Asia and parts of Western Europe, and I usually have my wits about me, but being drugged and robbed is not a situation I ever imagined myself in, and I don't wish it upon anyone. I later read that there is at least one robbery every day in Ermita, and that local authorities have done nothing to protect tourists. Be warned when visiting Manila. There are scam artists everywhere.
Written October 20, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Colorado Springs, CO1,207 contributions
Sep 2014 • Solo
Nothing special. Drop in if you're near, but don't make an extra trip. It's another big church in a dirty, slummy area of downtown Manila without much to offer besides some interesting external architecture and an elaborate interior.
Written October 1, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

David T
Lightwater, UK632 contributions
Jun 2014 • Couples
When living/working in Asia you forget the beauty of Churches. Well this one that will be locked in my memory for many years. Exterior is relatively plain, however when you explore the interior its a different world. Stain glass windows are beautiful, as is the alter. A truly beautiful building.
Written June 15, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Philippines207 contributions
Feb 2012 • Solo
San Sebastian Minor Basilica is one of Manila’s hiding gems, and it’s funny how I only went inside this cultural site this year.

The only all-steel basilica in the Asia – although, in my opinion, its record might extend to the rest on a global scale as I cannot see any other ‘all-steel’ basilicas elsewhere – also happens to be the second structure in the world made completely of steel, just after Eiffel Tower.

Presently a contender of yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site designation, San Sebastian is also the only church following the neo-Gothic tradition in the Philippines; it was modeled after the Burgos Cathedral in Spain. Moreover, it is also known to being the only pre-fabricated church in the world. Currently a National Historical Landmark, A National Shrine, A National Cultural Treasure, and once listed as one of the 100 Most Endangered Monuments in the world, the outstanding universal value of San Sebastian is very evident, and a trip to Manila without seeing this engineering marvel is never really complete.

Try knocking on some of its parts. They really give the "ting" sound! Its fun doing it. Also, if you pay closer attention to some of the columns, you can actually see rusts forming (although this is a bad news).

From Quiapo, walk along Hidalgo Street, right across the highway. The sight is hard to miss.
Written September 3, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

El Paso, TX766 contributions
Jul 2012 • Couples
If you like Catholic church architecture, this should be on your list when visiting Manila.
Written July 20, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mark P
106 contributions
Nov 2016
In fact one of the few sights worth paying a visit. The only church in Asia made out of steel. Maybe not located in the best neighbourhood. So be aware of your belongings and have a save transport to and from.
Written December 13, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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