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Church of Nuestra Sefiora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria

  • Unlike other town churches in the Philippines, which conform with the Spanish tradition of sitting them on the central plaza, the Church of Nuestra Sefiora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria with its convent are on a hill completely surrounded by a sturdy defensive wall. Also unusual are the sitting of the convent parallel to the facade of the church and that of the separate bell-tower ( characteristic of Philippine-Hispanic architecture ) at the midpoint of the nave wall. This arrangement was dictated by the topography of the hill on which it is situated. Built in brick, the church follows the standard Philippine layout, with a monumental facade masking a straight roof line covering a long rectangular building.
  • It is alleged to be built on a solid raft as a precaution against earthquake damage. The walls are devoid of ornament but have delicately carved side entrances and strong buttresses, also designed to resist earthquakes. The curved pediment motif is repeated in the church, school, and cemetery.

What is meant by ''Baroque architecture'' ?
  • By ''Baroque '' we mean that style of architecture introduced in the 16th century first in Italy and later to colonial south America and then Spanish Philippines. This is when the Catholic Church in the Counter Reformation created buildings and art therein to appeal to the members of the congregation. Here then came the complex shapes, twisted columns, high domes , grand stairways and curved forms, the interpenetration of space with rich surface art work, gilded statues, bright colors and vivid painted ceilings. The feeling inside was one of grandeur and space.
  • In particular also came ''trompe L'oeil'' art ( French for ''fool the eye'' decorative painting that creates an illusion of perspective and reality ). It is also referred to as ''faux ( ''false'' ) finish''.The best example of which to see today in the Philippines is in San Augustin Church, Intramuros, Manila.
  • By ''Earthquake Baroque'' we mean the churches in the Philippines which became modified as a result of earthquake destruction. Here the Baroque Churches were designed and made lower and wider with heavy and thick buttresses on the sides to enforce stability during the shaking caused with seismic activity. The upper portions of the churches were also made of lighter materials and the bell towers were thicker at the bases and narrowing upwards and positioned away from the actual church building. Good examples can be seen at Paoay. (here)
  • By ''Philippines Baroque'' we mean Spanish Baroque churches constructed by the Spanish regime in the 16th and 17th centuries in the Philippines.