Oldest Churches in Mindanao You May Like to See

Mindanao is a beautiful island in the southern region of the Philippines that is renowned for its stunning beaches, rich culture, and fascinating history. However, one of the most intriguing facets of Mindanao’s history is its deep religious roots, evident in the island’s many ancient churches. These oldest churches in Mindanao have survived the test of time and remain a testament to the Filipinos’ faith and resilience.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the oldest churches in Mindanao that you may like to visit. From the stunning architecture to the fascinating stories behind each church, there’s plenty to discover and explore in Mindanao’s religious landmarks. So, whether you’re a history buff, a spiritual pilgrim, or simply someone looking to immerse yourself in the rich culture of the Philippines, these churches are worth a visit. So, let’s dive in and discover the oldest churches in Mindanao!

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Oldest Churches in Mindanao: San Salvador del Mundo Church (Caraga, Davao Oriental)

Facade of the Caraga Church (Source: Olan214/Wikimedia Commons)

The San Salvador del Mundo Church, also known as the old stone Church of Caraga, is a significant historical attraction in the heart of Poblacion in Caraga, Davao Oriental. It is the oldest stone church in Mindanao and holds great importance as the birthplace of Christianity in the eastern part of the Philippines. Fr. Pablo Pastells built the church in 1884, and the Spaniards once used it as a prison.

They placed coral and limestone blocks on each other to build the structure, while they constructed the upper half mainly of wood. Inside, the church has undergone several renovations. The remaining traces of its original retablos and roofing are the narra hardwood posts and lateral walls.

The Church houses several exciting artifacts that date back to the Spanish colonial era, including a Church Bell from 1802, two giant seashells serving as holy water fonts, an antique marble baptismal basin, and an antique statue of San Isidro Labrador. In addition, the centuries-old Baptismal registry with entries from 1835 remains intact, along with several antique parish records and archives.

In 2012, the National Historical Commission declared the San Salvador del Mundo Church a national historic site.

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Tamontaka Church (Cotabato City, Maguindanao)

Tamontaka Church (Source: Joelaldor/Wikimedia Commons)

They named this church in Southern Philippines after the river near its original location and constructed it for the first time in 1872. The Jesuits of Zamboanga supervised the relocation of the parish to its present site later in 1879. A 1976 earthquake caused severe damage to it, but rebuilding occurred within two years. They named it a National Historic Landmark in 2004.

A tunnel connected this renowned church to an underground cemetery. The structure is part of the network of underground caves of Pedro Holina Hill.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary (Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte)

Dipolog Cathedral (Source: Jimmy A. Domingo/Wikimedia Commons)

The Dipolog Cathedral serves as the principal religious institution of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dipolog, with its namesake as the principal patroness. It is among the five cathedrals located in the Ecclesiastical Province of Ozamiz.

Constructed in 1894, the church has undergone multiple renovations. In 2009, the workers embellished the cathedral’s facade with marble. The current altar is a replica of the original Retablo designed by Dr. Jose Rizal. One of the cathedral’s highlights is its hardwood ceiling.

Oldest Churches in Mindanao: St. John the Baptist Church (Jimenez, Misamis Oriental)

Jimenez Church (Source: JJ Carpio/Wikimedia Commons)

The San Juan Bautista Parish Church is a late 19th-century Baroque church. It showcases a Renaissance-inspired design with a portico consisting of three semicircular arched entrances. In addition, you can find a bell tower adorned with finials and a domed roof on the church’s left side. This Philippine church was declared a National Cultural Treasure in 2001.

Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental)

They constructed the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception from the remains of a church destroyed during an earthquake in 1955. The renowned National Artist for Architecture, Leandro Locsin, designed and finished this structure in 1960. In 1997-1998, the cathedral underwent renovations, including its facade, which is quite impressive. Additionally, the cathedral is home to the second-largest pipe organ in the Philippines. It is also the only existing pipe organ in Mindanao.

Fuerte de la Concepcion y del Triunfo (Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental)

Archdiocesan Marian Shrine of the Birhen sa Cotta (Source: Theglennpalacio/Wikimedia Commons)

There is an intriguing church in the province that you may want to visit – Fuerte de la Concepcion y del Triunfo. This fort was constructed in 1755 by the Spaniards as a citadel to keep the region safe from pirates.

Today, it stands as a significant historical landmark, representing the cultural heritage of Ozamiz City. It has also become a well-known pilgrimage site and one of the oldest historical structures in the city. The people dedicated the Archdiocesan Marian Shrine of the Birhen sa Cotta to the city’s patron, Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepcion y del Triunfo de la Cruz de Migpangi. You can find it outside the fort’s south wall.

Oldest Churches in Mindanao: Caluya Shrine (Sapang Dalaga, Misamis Occidental)

They modeled the Caluya Shrine after the iconic Christ The Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. This towering structure offers stunning views of Murcielagos Bay, Dioyo River, and Mt. Malindang. Accessible via a 100-step staircase from barrio road, it presents a unique opportunity for meditation.


Final Thoughts

Before the Spanish colonial period, Filipinos had their own unique indigenous beliefs and practices. However, in the 16th century, Christianity was introduced by Spanish missionaries in Cebu. Today, around 85 percent of the Philippine population identifies as Christians, with Roman Catholicism being the dominant denomination.

Due to the Filipinos’ unwavering faith, numerous stunning oldest churches in Mindanao have become popular tourist destinations.

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