Monthly Archives: December 2008

Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)

Posted by on December 22, 2008

UNESCO World Heritage Site #12: Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)

Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome): My 12th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome):

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) was the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945. Through the efforts of many people, including those of the city of Hiroshima, it has been preserved in the same state as immediately after the bombing. Not only is it a stark and powerful symbol of the most destructive force ever created by humankind; it also expresses the hope for world peace and the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons.

There isn’t much to say about the Peace Park in Hiroshima, which I haven’t said before.

Overview

Hiroshima Peace MemorialThe Hiroshima Peace Memorial and its park is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The park is massive with a measurement of over 120,000 square meters in land area. It was inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan in 1996 under the Cultural category. The site is also known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, which refers to the dome that is part of the ruin that is left of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall.

History of the Dome and Bombing

The Product Exhibition Hall Building is a creation of Czech architect Jan Letzel. The distinctive dome was part of the original building design and represents the highest part of the structure. The building was completed in April 1915 and called Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition. In 1933, it was renamed to its final name by the time of the bombing – Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall. The building was used for educational and art exhibitions.

The atomic bomb was launched in August 1945, known as the Little Boy. It was dropped by the United States Army Air Forces from a B-29 Bomber. The force of the atomic bomb was so significant that it literally wiped out the entire city of Hiroshima in Japan instantly killing more than 70,000 people. Meanwhile, another 70,000 more suffered fatal injuries due to the exposure to radiation.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Even though the building was located within the hypocenter of the bomb, it survived the explosion – the only structure to do so. The atomic bomb explosion did expose the metal dome framework at its apex creating one of the most iconic sights post-Atomic Bomb explosion. Eventually, it was preserved as a memorial of the bombing and make it a symbol of peace despite the war that caused its destruction in the first place.

The reconstruction of the dome started in 1950 along with the establishment of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park that was finished in 1964. In 1966, the Hiroshima City Council permanently preserved the dome as part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

Other Features

Before the bombing, the same location of the Peace Park used to be the commercial and political center of Hiroshima. This is the primary reason why this was chosen as the target of the atomic bomb. There are several peace memorial facilities built within this same area seeing that the site could not be re-developed.

Below are the list of facilities found within the park:

Hiroshima Peace MemorialPeace Memorial Museum: This is the main facility of the park; there are two buildings that comprise this museum. The museum showcases the history of Hiroshima and the nuclear bomb that once destroyed it. If you want to learn about what happened on the day of August 6 and its consequent cause of human suffering.

A-Bomb Dome: This is the primary landmark of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The site preserves the ruins of the building that was destroyed by the bomb with the dome being the only part of the structure that remain standing.

Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims: This is an arched tomb that was created to commemorate the people who lost their lives to the atomic bombing in Hiroshima (either from the initial blast or radiation). Beneath the arched tomb is stone chest listing over 220,000 names.


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Mar 19, 2017 @ 6:21 am

Winter Solstice Housekeeping

Posted by on December 21, 2008

With the end of the year upon us, I wanted take the time to take some time and remind people that there are ways you can follow what I’m doing and support the site that you might not have been aware of.

The first thing is my map:



View Larger Map

If you have Goolge Earth installed, you can explore my route and the places I’ve been on a virtual globe. Just download the kml file. I love playing with my map. It is a work in progress and it is never complete. You can view it in Google Maps, but it isn’t quite the same thing. If you do explore it in Google Maps, make sure to move the map around or all the points wont show up. (If anyone knows how to format the pins in kml files let me know. I’d like to make it a bit more snazzy)

The next thing of course is Twitter. I’m pretty active on Twitter and I use it to post a lot of one or two sentence things which are too small to make it on the blog. If you weren’t on Twitter, then you would never know about the 2 hours I spent drinking with an expat Canadian who told me about his drug and hooker exploits. This is quality stuff!

If you don’t use Twitter, you can still get my messages on Facebook. You can add me as a friend, or follow me on my fan page. I suggest you do both, as the more people I have on the fan page, the more it helps spread the word.

As for me, I’m off to see the long necked tribal women tomorrow. I hope everyone is enjoying the cold and snow back in North America. Temperature here is in the low 70s (22C) with sunny skies. The beer is cheap too….not to rub it in or anything.

Yakushima

Posted by on December 21, 2008

UNESCO World Heritage Site #11: Yakushima

Yakushima: My 11th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage Inscription for Yakushima:

Located in the interior of Yaku Island, at the meeting-point of the palaearctic and oriental biotic regions, Yakushima exhibits a rich flora, with some 1,900 species and subspecies, including ancient specimens of the sugi (Japanese cedar). It also contains a remnant of a warm-temperate ancient forest that is unique in this region.

Yakushima is a very special place. About an hour ferry ride from Kagoshima, the interior of Yakushima (Yaku Island) is several thousand feet above sea level and often in the clouds.

Not only is it a beautiful place, but the food I had on Yakushima is some of the best I’ve experienced on my trip.

Overview

Yakushima

Yakushima is a roughly circular shaped island in Japan with a circumferential measurement of 130 km. It features a diverse landscape consisting of subtropical coastal regions while the parts with higher elevation are dominated by cold mountain areas. The mountainous region make up 90% of the total land area in the island.

As of May 2012, there is an estimated 13,618 people living in the island. However, the human settlers are largely outnumbered by the flora and fauna species on the island.

Yakushima Interesting Facts

Yakushima

    • The dense forest covers a vast majority of the island that stretches out to near the shoreline.
    • About 95% of the island is owned and managed by the forestry department.
    • The inland region of Yakushima is the wettest part of Japan. The average rainfall in Japan is only up to 2,000 mm per year, but Yakushima’s is at 10,000 mm per year!
    • The tallest mountain in southern Japan is located in the Yakushima Island. It is Miyanoura dake with a height of 1,935 meters.
    • The Yakushima island is home to over 7,000 wild Yakuzaru monkeys and deers. These sub-species can only be found in the island. In fact, there are more monkeys and deers in the island than human residents.
    • The famous yakusugi tree is one of the oldest trees in the world at 2,700 years old! This tree is found in Yakushima.

    How to Get There and Getting Around

    Yakushima is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan, not just because it is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, the island is highly isolated and difficult to get to. You can travel by air to Osaka, Kagoshima or Fukouka if you are coming from international destinations. From these jump-off points, you need to ride a ferry. There are plenty of ferry options available to choose from and they can determine how fast or slow the journey is.

    Traveling to Yakushima by boat can be slow especially if you consider the additional travel time involved when you transfer to Kagoshima Bay. But the fare is reasonable so it won’t cause a huge dent on your budget.

    Within the island itself, there are many transportation options. There are two bus companies that offer services within Yakushima Island. You can also rent a car if you want to explore more of the island. There are several car rental companies that operate. However, you need to have international driver’s license before you are able to rent a car in Yakushima.

    Climate

    Yakushima

    The climactic conditions in the island ranges from warm temperate to subtropical. The climate on the island is heavily influenced by the mountain ranges, latitude and the ocean current. The low lying areas of the island experience mild to moderate winter with the forest often covered in snow during the winter. The ocean current, on the other hand, brings warm moisture into the air in the western part of the Yakushima coast.

    The daily mean temperature in the island averages more than 19 degree Celsius per year. June and July are the hottest months of the year with an average temperature of 35 degree Celsius.


    View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan.

    View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

    Last updated: Mar 17, 2017 @ 7:47 am

    Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

    Posted by on December 20, 2008

    UNESCO World Heritage Site #10: Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

    Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu: My 10th World Heritage Site

    From the World Heritage inscription for the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu:

    Five hundred years of Ryukyuan history (12th-17th century) are represented by this group of sites and monuments. The ruins of the castles, on imposing elevated sites, are evidence for the social structure over much of that period, while the sacred sites provide mute testimony to the rare survival of an ancient form of religion into the modern age. The wide- ranging economic and cultural contacts of the Ryukyu Islands over that period gave rise to a unique culture.

    Okinawa is geographically and culturally different than the rest of Japan. I usually explain it as Japan’s Hawaii. Its language is distinct from Japanese and the islands weren’t even formally part of Japan until the 1870’s.

    Much of Shuri-jo Castle and other landmarks in Okinawa were damaged during the battle of Okinawa in WWII, which took the lives of over 100,000 Japanese and 13,000 allied soldiers. The current castle is mostly rebuilt and reconstruction is still ongoing.

    Overview

    Gusuku Sites and related properties of the kingdom of Ryukyu

    The Gusuku Sites and related properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu was inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan in November 2000. There are 9 sites included within this collective property. All of these sites showcase the glory that the kingdom once had in Japan that lasted from the 14th to the 17th century. The trade industry played a key role in the flourishing of this kingdom in Asia.

    The nine sites that are encompassed within this property includes Nakijin Castle, Katsuren Castle, Shuri Castle, Nakagusuku Castle Ruins, Zakimi Castle, Tamaudun Mausoleum, Sonohyan Utaki Stone Gate, Shikinaen Garden and Sefa Utaki.

    Castles

    There are five castles included within the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu recognized by UNESCO. Most of these are castle ruins, while some have remained intact until today. Shuri Castle is the most famous of these sites and was also the most important castle on the kingdom’s legacy. It was once a royal residence and government office. The current state of the building is a result of a reconstruction job that was done in 1992. All of the other castles have not been restored and the ruins had been preserved.

    The ruins of the Nakagusuku Castle was the best preserved out of all the other castles within this property. It is composed of several citadels and is situated in a nice hilltop location with views of the Nakagusuku Bay and the rest of Okinawa.

    The ruins of the Katsuren Castle is located on the Yokatsu Peninsula and stands on a steep hill near the coast. This, too, offers beautiful overlooking view of the nearby areas. Meanwhile, the Zakimi Castle played an important role in defending against the rebels in the north of the island. It was specifically chosen for its commanding view to serve as lookout point against these rebels. Finally, the Nakijin Castle (of which the ruins are left today) is located on the Motobu Peninsula. It was the seat of the northern kings before the island became part of the Ryukyu kingdom during the 1400s.

    Related Sites

    Gusuku Sites and related properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

    There are four related sites on the kingdom of Ryukyu that were recognized into the UNESCO property. First on the list of Gusuku Sites and related properties in the kingdom of Ryukyu is the Sonohyan Utaki Gate. This gate was built at the start of the 16th century at the height of King Sho Shin’s reign. The gate is considered a sacred area and whenever the king left for a journey, he would stop by the gate and pray for the safety of his journey. Apart from this sacred belief, the gate is notable for its showcase of the kingdom’s advance skills and knowledge on limestone masonry. The gate was destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa but was restored to its current state in 1957.

    The Tamaudun Mausoleum is another site with important ties to the Kingdom of Ryukyu. It was built for king Sho Shin in the 16th century. During the time of its construction, a stele was erected to indicate the names of those who were to be entombed at Tamaudun, which included King Sho Shin himself.

    The Shikina En Garden was built in 1799 in order to provide embellishment to the royal residence. This garden consists of a pond with two small islands. There are also pavilions near the garden with red tiles and Chinese style arched bridges.

    Finally, the Sefa Utaki is another sacred spot in the region known in local legend to have been created by a goddess. It was important for the people under the kingdom of Ryukyu because it served as their place of worship.


    View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan.

    View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

    Last updated: Mar 17, 2017 @ 12:13 am

    Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

    Posted by on December 19, 2008

    UNESCO World Heritage Site #9: Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

    Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park: My 9th UNESCO World Heritage Site

    From the World Heritage inscription for the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park:

    This park features a spectacular limestone karst landscape with an underground river. One of the river’s distinguishing features is that it emerges directly into the sea, and its lower portion is subject to tidal influences. The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full ‘mountain-to-sea’ ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia.

    The underground river is really pretty cool. The river goes into the mountain about 6km, but the tours only go in about 1km. The inside of the cave has tons of stalactite and stalagmite formations, most of which are named after things they look like, which usually requires a lot of imagination. Outside the cave, I saw huge monitor lizards and macaque monkeys. The underground river on Palawan is the longest navigable underground river in the world.

    Overview of the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

    Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National ParkThe Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a natural site listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines. The underground river is located in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan. The entire park covers more than 22,000 hectares in land area and was inscribed by UNESCO in 1999. The park is managed by the city government of Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

    The entire length of the subterranean river is recorded at 8 km; however, the paddle boats that tourists ride to explore the river travels only 1.5 km into the cave. Tourists are allowed to travel as far as 4.3 km upstream but a special permit should be obtained from the Subterranean River National Park Office prior to that. Ideally, this permit must be secured two days in advance of the scheduled tour. The exploration of the deeper areas of the cave is discouraged due to lack of oxygen.

    This park is a protected area to preserve the rock formations and the integrity of the river. In addition, it is also a habitat for biodiversity conservation. The park is filled with mountain-to-sea ecosystem and contains some of the most significant forest formations in the continent.

    About the Underground River

    The main feature of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is the limestone karst mountain landscape. The river travels through the cave underneath this limestone mountain wherein the river flows directly to the West Philippine Sea. Within the cave, there are several formations of stalagmite and stalactites. There are also several large chambers of rock inside the cave with the Italian’s Chamber being the biggest of them all at 360 meters long.

    In 2007, the discovery of an underground river in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico made it the longest underground river in the world. Prior to that, the Subterranean River in Puerto Princesa, Palawan held that recognition.

    Tips for the Underground River

    Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

    • Wear flip flops or other types of slippers. Your feet will get soaked while getting in and out of the boat.
    • Bring a zip lock bag for your camera. If you are using a camera that is not waterproof, this is an important step because it is inevitable that the waves can get you wet, including your camera.
    • Securing permit for entry to the underground river can be difficult. On peak season, you need to secure a permit about a month in advance. To make booking easier, you can book for a tour through your hotel.
    • Volunteer to hold the searchlight as you tour the inside of the cave. That way, you can point the light towards the area that the tour guide is trying to show you.
    • If you can, pack a camera with a strong flash. There is no other light source inside the cave. Hence, you need the flash to be able to capture the various rock formations inside the cave.

    View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines.

    View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

    Last updated: Mar 16, 2017 @ 3:26 pm

    Life in Chiang Mai

    Posted by on December 19, 2008

    I’ve been in Chiang Mai for two days now. It reminds me a lot of Phuket without the beaches. It is very touristy, and I mean that in the worst sense.

    The night market area is just an endless row of vendors selling the same crap. Everyone I’ve been in SE Asia has some sort of tourist focus, I get that. What you see in Thailand is sort of a step beyond what you see everywhere else. You can’t set foot on the street without being barraged with tuk tuk drivers. (at least you don’t have the massage girls pestering you here like you do in Phuket). I know it isn’t as bad as some places, but I think the last few months in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos has lowered my threshold for this sort of stuff.

    That being said, I haven’t gone out to do any of the real Chiang Mai type stuff yet. Tomorrow and the day after I’ll be going out to see the long neck village women and do elephant riding. The food here isn’t as good as what I had in Laos or Vietnam.

    At this point I just want to make sure to get to Bangkok by Christmas, which I don’t think should be a problem.

    Historic City of Vigan

    Posted by on December 18, 2008

    UNESCO World Heritage Site #8: Historic City of Vigan

    Historic City of Vigan: My 8th UNESCO World Heritage Site

    From the World Heritage inscription of the Historic City of Vigan:

    Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia.

    The above photo is of the Vigan Cathedral and the central plaza. The plaza area has small models of the wonders of the world as well as a map of the Philippines with models of the Filipino World Heritage sites on it.

    Vigan is a very quaint city and you can tell it is different from most cities in the Philippines the moment you step off the bus. Many of the streets in the central area do not allow automobiles. Most of the old buildings have not be renovated so you get the feel of walking through an old Spanish city.

    Overview of the Historic City of Vigan

    Historic City of ViganVigan is one of the most beautiful towns/cities in the Philippines. It is also one of the richest in terms of historical and cultural heritage.

    Located in the northern part of the Philippines, Vigan is best known for its heritage village that has preserved Spanish colonial buildings that make you feel like walking into a time warp. The buildings that were built during the 18th century were still intact until today. Indeed, it is the only Hispanic town in the Philippines that remain intact- from the cobblestone streets to the architecture that features the fusion of Philippine, Spanish and Oriental design concepts are sought after by tourists.

    How to Get to Vigan

    To go to the historic city of Vigan, you can go to Manila. This is the ideal jump off point for traveling to Vigan. There are bus routes that travel to Vigan almost every day. The bus ride from Manila to Vigan will take roughly 10 to 11 hours. Another option is to take a flight to the city of Laoag. From Laoag, you can take a bus to Vigan. The ride will be much shorter at 2 to 3 hours.

    History of Vigan

    Prior to Vigan being named as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines, it as an important coastal trading post during the pre-colonial era. The Chinese junks sailed through the Mestizo River prior to the arrival of the Spanish galleons. Seafaring merchants bartered exotic goods from various parts of Asia with that of gold, beeswax and other products from the Philippines. Eventually, a few Chinese immigrants settled in Vigan.

    It was in 1572 when the first Spanish colonial settlement was established in Vigan. In 1595, the first diocese was established and its first bishop was named. More than four centuries later, this historic town was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines. It was also named as the first component city of Ilocos Sur in 2001. Aside from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vigan is also one of the New Seven Wonders Cities of the World during the selection in 2014.

    Highlights of Vigan

    Historic City of Vigan

    • Spanich colonial architecture the cobblestone streets of Calle Crisologo
    • Religious processions during festivals or Holy Week
    • Numerous cultural activities
    • Old churches such as the famed Vigan Cathedral
    • Traditional cuisine in Vigan
    • Pottery making

    The Spanish heritage village is one of the most frequented tourist destination in Vigan. The local government seem to follow the lead of tourists such that tourism is now one of the province’s main source of economy.


    View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines.

    View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

    Last updated: Mar 16, 2017 @ 3:26 pm

    Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

    Posted by on December 17, 2008

    UNESCO Word Heritage Site #7: Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

    Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras: My 7th UNESCO World Heritage Site

    From the World Heritage inscription for the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras:

    The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras is an outstanding example of an evolved, living cultural landscape that can be traced as far back as two millennia ago in the pre-colonial Philippines. The terraces are located in the remote areas of the Philippine Cordillera mountain range on the northern island of Luzon, Philippine archipelago. While the historic terraces cover an extensive area, the inscribed property consists of five clusters of the most intact and impressive terraces, located in four municipalities. They are all the product of the Ifugao ethnic group, a minority community that has occupied these mountains for thousands of years.

    The Rice Terraces of Banaue are considered by many to the be the 8th Wonder of the World. The mountain sides of the area have been carved out to create terraces for rice farming over the last 2,000 years.

    The photo above is of a local Ifugao woman in traditional dress who let me take her photo for a few pesos. As I’ve seen other photos with her in it, I can only assume she makes money this way.

    Overview

    Rice Terraces of the Philippine CordillerasThe Rice Terraces in the Philippine Cordilleras region was designated a cultural site by UNESCO in 1995. The site represents over 2,000 years of ancient and cultural living landscape that illustrates how the Ifugaos in the area has lived in harmony with nature. It also showcases a sustainable agricultural method that has been passed down from generation to generation.

    There are five sites included within this World Heritage Site property: 1) Batad Rice Terraces, 2) Bangaan Rice Terraces in Banaue, 3) Mayoyao Rice Terraces in Mayoyao, 4) Hungduan Rice Terraces in Hungduan and 5) Nagacadan Rice Terraces in Kiangan. All of these rice terraces sites are located in the Ifugao province of the Philippine Cordillera Region.

    How to Get Here

    The Banaue Rice Terraces are the most famous of the rice terrace sites in this UNESCO property listing. It is located 348 kilometers from Manila. Buses have daily trips to Banaue and the drive can take between 8 to 10 hours.

    When planning to visit, the ideal time is in June. This coincides with the harvesting season and the landscape is golden.

    Features of the Rice Terraces

    The rice terraces in the Philippine Cordillera follow the natural contours of the mountains in the region. The original builders of the terraces used mud and stone walls in order to construct these terraces. These walls serve to hold the pond fields with which the rice was cultivated in.

    Aside from the construction of the pond fields themselves for planting the rice, the Ifugao natives also developed an irrigation system that would supply water to these plots of rice. The water used for irrigation is sourced from the mountaintop forests. It is an engineering feat for farming that was way ahead of its time.

    Cultural Signifiance

    Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera

    The rice terraces in the Ifugao region of the Philippines play a vital role in its cultural formation. Hence, they are considered national cultural treasures. The terraces play a central role in the locals’ survival primarily because this is their main source of food. However, the season system of planting is also intermingled with some religious rituals. The act of planting and harvesting is an activity shared by the entire community.

    Due to modernization, the site has been placed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Danger. More than 25 percent of the terraces have been abandoned and continues to deteriorate. Today, its value is primarily on tourism and its contribution as a source of rice has been exceeded by that.


    View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines.

    View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

    Last updated: Mar 16, 2017 @ 3:27 pm

    Off to Chiang Mai

    Posted by on December 16, 2008

    My short stint in Udon Thani is over. It was interesting for no other reason than Udon Thani isn’t on the normal tourist route. I did manage to sneak in a trip to World Heritage site #51 yesterday, the Ban Chaing Archeological Area. It was a nice museum, but like the other archeology site I visited at Sangiran, Indonesia, it wasn’t much to look at.

    There are definately more cars here than what I’ve gotten used to in Vietnam. More than what I saw in Bangkok or Phuket earlier. Last evening I had a real American night out: dinner at the Sizzler and a movie….yes, they actually have a Sizzler in Udon Thani….and a DQ…..and a KFC.

    I’m looking forward to Chiang Mai. This 12 hour bus trip should be my last really long one for quite a while. Chaing Mai has lots of adventure type things to do, the women with the really long necks, and good food. From there to Bangkok there are a few other places I’ll be stopping at, but they should be short hops.

    It is looking like I will be in Bangkok for Christmas. Last year I was in Hong Kong and Macau for Christmas. Not being home for Christmas does suck, but so does freezing your ass off, so I guess there is a bit of a trade off.

    I’m looking forward to reaching Bangkok. It is going to mark an end for this part of my trip. I’m looking forward to going to the Middle East.

    Baroque Churches of the Philippines

    Posted by on December 16, 2008

    World Heritage Site Baroque Churches of the Philippines

    Baroque Churches of the Philippines: My 6th UNESCO World Heritage Site

    From the World Heritage inscription of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines:

    This group of churches established a style of building and design that was adapted to the physical conditions in the Philippines and had an important influence on later church architecture in the region. The four churches are outstanding examples of the Philippine interpretation of the Baroque style and represent the fusion of European church design and construction with local materials and decorative motifs to form a new church-building tradition.

    The Church of San Agustin in Manila is the principal property in the Baroque Churches of the Philippines World Heritage Site. San Agustin is the oldest church in the Philippines. The current church dates back to 1607 but previous Spanish churches have existed on the spot going back to 1571. The church has survived several major earthquakes in Manila as well as both American and Japanese bombardment in WWII.

    Overview of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines

    There are four churches around the Philippines which are included in this site. The churches that were included in this UNESCO World Heritage Site property played a crucial role in the country’s colonial past and identity. Most of these churches were built during the 16th century at the time of the Spanish colonial rule of the country. The churches’ unique design feature the integration of the Spanish and Latin American architectural styles with that of the Philippine indigenous architecture. In fact, the prominence of these churches also provided a glimpse into the power that the Church had in ruling the state during the colonial history.

    The Spaniards held a great deal of power during the 15th to 16th century wherein they went on an expedition and colonized many countries. The Philippines was one of those countries. When they landed on the Philippine islands in 1521, they were able to infiltrate the country and establish their rule by spreading Catholicism in the country. They ruled the Philippines for more than three centuries until the country eventually declared its independence from Spain. However, those three centuries of Spanish rule have influenced the way of life in the Philippines – from the language, religion, belief and architecture, to name a few.

    The four churches are:

    Church of San Agustin in Manila

    The San Agustin Church in Manila features a design that is derived from the Augustinian churches in Mexico. In fact, it bears a strong resemblance to Puebla Cathedral in Puebla, Mexico. It is located in Intramuros, which is in the southern district of Manila. It is the only church that had survived the bombardment during the Second World War.

    Given its location in Manila, it is the most popular and visited of the four churches which comprise this world heritage site.

    Church of La Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur

    Located atop a hill, the Church of La Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion served as a citadel once that profess to how this architectural feat has served several purposes. The two huge columns at the facade of the church are among its most distinctive feature. Meanwhile, the reddish exterior and exposed brickwork define its unique style.

    Church of San Agustin in Paoay, Ilocos Norte

    Baroque Churches of the Philippines

    This particular church was pointed out in the UNESCO listing as the most outstanding example of the Earthquake Baroque Architectural Style. Next to the Paoay Church is a coral stone bell tower. These two are one of the most recognizable landmarks in the country. The fact that the bell tower is detached from the main church building also makes it unique.

    Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva in Iloilo

    This church, also known as Miagao Church, is built on the highest point in the town of Miagao in Iloilo (to which the church was also named after). The towers of the church also served as a lookout for Muslim raiders. Meanwhile, both the church and its watchtowers were built with secret passages and thick walls to defend from the Muslim raids. It is considered the finest example of “Fortress Baroque”. The facade of the church exemplifies how Filipino churches have adapted Western decorative elements.

    The Philippines is no doubt a haven for historical churches. Due to its colonial past and a rich Christian belief, it comes as no surprise how the church is an integral part of the system. In fact, the national government and both public and private sectors work together to safeguard these national treasures. The aim is to preserve and protect the historical and cultural heritage that are tied up with these baroque churches. In addition, they are also rapidly growing as top tourist destinations.


    View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines.

    View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

    Last updated: Mar 16, 2017 @ 3:28 pm