BATANGAS | Basilica de San Martin de Tours in Taal

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Taal Church Basilica

I checked my camera’s viewfinder, backing away as I did so. I was trying to fit the massive edifice of the Taal Basilica on my camera frame. It took some steps back to finally enclose the church fully in my camera, and I was using an ultra wide lens at that.

Colossal is the word that comes to mind as one steps under the shadow of the ancient Basilica of St. Martin of Tours in the historic town of Taal, Batangas. Almost a hundred meters long and 45 meters wide, made of adobe and coral stones, this is the largest church, not only in the Philippines, but through the whole of Asia.

Taal Church Basilica

Originally built on the old Taal town, it was destroyed by Taal Volcano’s fiercest explosion to date. The whole town was then moved farther away from the volcano, the church included. Work on the new house of worship was started in 1755 thru 1782 by various rectors. It was, however, again damaged by a massive earthquake in 1852.

Construction of the current reincarnation of the basilica was set in motion in 1856 thru the designs of Spanish architect Luciano Oliver. It was finally inaugurated by 1865, even if was still unfinished after almost a decade of work. It has gone various reconstructions and restorations since then.

Taal Church Basilica

Historical is what this Baroque church looks like; its 24 classical columns and walls clearly showing its form and texture. I went in through one of its tunnel-like side-doors and the temperature suddenly dropped as I got farther along its cavernous hall.

I walked along its ornately tiled floor, hearing my footsteps echo through its ribbed ceiling. The church looks very bare with trimmings its only décor.

Taal Church Basilica

I changed my mind though as I stepped into the central part of the basilica. Here, walls and ceilings are painted in the trompe l'oeil style, characteristic of Baroque cathedrals. The paint-work made the decors look very three-dimensional, enhancing the intricacies of the church.

The domed ceiling of the church was more than a match to Lipa’s San Sebastian Cathedral in terms of grandness and complexity. An octagonal clerestory tops the ceiling, providing illumination down the altar and transepts.

Taal Church Basilica

We checked its famed belfry, which is said to contain the largest bell in the country. We climbed along the rough and dark stairwell up the restored bell tower after paying the PHP50.00 entrance fee. The panoramic view of Taal Town as seen from up there was worth the fee.

After that claustrophobic episode, we relaxed a bit on an atrium off the right side of the church where a koi pond was located.

Taal Church Basilica

When it comes to grandiosity and massiveness in their churches, Batangas is quite hard to beat with its collection of such edifices dotting its towns. And its crowning glory? Taal Town’s Basilica de San Martin de Tours, no question about it.

Taal Church Basilica


Basilica de San Martin de Tours
Taal-Nasugbu Road
Taal, Batangas City

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  1. ngayon lang namin nalaman na pinakamalaki palang church ito sa asia! astig! :)nakakatuwa kasi laging kasama ang mga churches sa blog series mo sir! keep it up! ^_^

  2. A fellow pinay postcard collector sent me a postcard featuring this church. Nagandahan talaga ako sa church. Sana mapuntahan ko rin yun.

  3. natulala ata ako when i first saw this church. something about the façade made me think of LOTR, heheh. weird pero ganun.

    ganda nitong church na to, worth checking out.

  4. another reason to be proud of. clap clap clap! Galeng no. Konti lang nakaka-alam na nasa atin ang largest church na yan. Ang ganda talaga ng mga kuha mo. I'm also a fan of old churches btw kaya gustong gusto ko to makita.. thanks for sharing!

  5. wow. the largest church in asia? wow. this i need to see very soon. and for a church to be that big, it follows that the bell will also be colossal. you know what they say about big men and women LOL

  6. Kung si Olan ang waterfallls chaser at si Chyng ang buffet queen, parang ikaw na ang church hunter :)

  7. MarLiesTravels, Malditang "Kura"cha, Karl
    Galing no? Ako din di ko alam 'til nung pumunta kami jan na sya nga pinaka-malaki sa Asia =)

    Lapit lang Taal from Manila, 3 hours lang andun ka na =)

    Siguro kasi sobrang massive kaya talaga, comparable sa mga structures sa LOTR =)

    Lakwatsera de Primera
    Haha ako lang ba mahilig talaga mag-shoot ng churches?
    I find old churches to be really fascinating and ang ganda rin nila subjects for photography kasi

  8. Wow, hindi ko alam na nasa Taal pala ang largest church in Asia! :) Sana makapunta ako one of these days. Ang ganda ng pictures lalo na ang last one na interior ng simbahan.

    By the way, paano pala ang daan nyo papuntang Taal? I live in Cavite at alam ko lang may mga bus papuntang Tagaytay at Nasugbu. Gusto ko kasi pumunta sa Taal for a weekend getaway sana. :)

  9. Karla
    Ako rin nalaman ko lang before kami pumunta :P

    According to my Batanguena officemate, may daan daw thru Tagaytay - Nasugbu (thru Payapa Road ata to) pero jeep lang and di yata regular ang byahe.

    What we did was ride a Lemery Jam Liner bus from Cubao straight to Taal. :)

  10. Nice photo of the biggest church in Asia. Taal Basilica. For those looking for information about Taal you may want to check this blog : and you may try our best Tapa and Longanisa from Taal. " Gerry and Lheen Special Tapa and Longanisa"