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The massive 18th century Baroque church of San Agustin in Paoay, Ilocos North province, is an example of the Earthquake Baroque style of church architecture.

The church features 26 massive side-buttresses and a number of external staircases. These architectural elements are meant to protect churches from collapse even in the worst earthquakes or typhoons in which this region abounds. This is why the church's architectural style is called Earthquake Baroque

San Agustin church postage stamp image

San Agustin Church, Paoay

The church is built from blocks of coral rubble faced with brick and mortared together with hard lime mortar thickened with sugarcane juice (stronger than mortar mixed with just water)

The external style may be Earthquake Baroque, but the many motifs (eg the crenellations) of the design suggest Chinese and Javanese influences. Some critics say it is reminiscent of Javanese temples.

Construction of this fortress-like church began in 1704. A separate bell tower was added nearby in 1793.

The bell tower was used by Katipunero rebels during the Philippine Revolution and by Filipino guerillas during the Japanese occupation in World War II as a hideout and observation post.

The San Agustin church of Paoay was named as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Further Information
Earthquake Baroque: Paoay Church in the Ilocos

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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)

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