Quiapo Church is one of the most famous religious sites in the Philippines. This 400-year old Roman Catholic Church is best known for the Black Nazarene, a 17th-century life-sized wooden statue of Jesus Christ. Many worshippers believe the greatly venerated icon has healing powers. Every day devotees turn up hoping for miracles.
Quiapo Church was built in the late 1580s, originally as a hut made of bamboo and palm-fronds. The first structure burned down in 1603 and was replaced with a stone edifice. Over the centuries it has been razed several times by fires and an earthquake. The current building on this spot dates from 1933.
Survey the impressive cream-colored façade with its two belfries and grand dome. Go inside the simple interior to see the church’s main draw, the Black Nazarene hanging above the altar. The figure is dressed in a maroon robe, and is in a semi-kneeling position carrying a cross.
Every Friday, thousands of pilgrims fill the church and the square it sits on for the Black Nazarene novena. This is a service of prayers and piety where some worshippers walk on their knees as they pray and sing hymns of devotion. If you are in the square for the novena watch the proceedings on the large flat-screen LCD.
The area around the church is also known for its sidewalk stalls and vendors selling herbal remedies, alternative therapies, folk cures, candles and icons. Soak up the sights, sounds and smells. Pay a visit to one of the fortune tellers, faith healers and palm readers.
The church is situated in Plaza Miranda in the center of Manila and can be reached by bus and taxi. The roads are often busy and an easy alternative is to take the train. Carriedo light rail station is only a few meters away from the church.
Quiapo Church is open daily. Admission is free. For a full list of masses and services visit the church’s official website. Photography is not allowed inside the building although you can take pictures from any of the entrances. Flash photography is forbidden.