We’ve covered Cebu many times here on Lakas in the past, and today we are going to revisit one of the city’s most celebrated tourist spots, the Basílica Menor del Santo Niño de Cebú commonly referred to as Santo Niño Basílica. Its full name means Minor Basilica of the Holy Child of Cebu in English.
Santo Niño Basílica is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the entire Philippines and was built in 1565. It was later made into a basilica in 1965 when Pope VI visited, declaring “it as the symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines.” Due to Cebu being the first island that was colonized by the Spanish, it wasn’t long before they built a church. Although, as history states, the church has been destroyed twice through raging fires, but rebuilt both times in the same spot.
The Santo Niño Basílica is revered here in the Philippines and regarded as the “Head of all Churches” in the country. Regardless of your religion, the church has great cultural significance, and is home to the annual Sinulog Festival, which is “the biggest religious parade and street party in the Philippines,” according to the Culture Trip.
But for tourists coming into Cebu for the first time, the Santo Niño Basílica is a wonderful and indelible cultural landmark that must be visited. If you live in a different part of country such as Manila or are an international traveler, you’re in luck as Cebu International Airport welcomes approximately 27 flights from NAIA everyday. It takes around 1 hour 25 minutes to get a direct flight from Manila to Cebu, which means the Philippines’ second biggest city has never been so accessible, especially for travelers wanting to get a glimpse of Santo Niño Basílica.
So what is there to discover at the Santo Niño Basílica?
Firstly, there’s the church’s museum which was opened back in 1965. There’s plenty on display too that provide tourists a look back at the church’s history. The Crazy Tourist suggests having a wander through the church halls “to see ancient paintings, gorgeous archways, stained glass windows, and overall, a piece of architecture that is awe-inspiring. You can view 17th century relics in the museum or visit the library filled with books covering modern subjects of all kinds.” You can also visit the pilgrim center which houses devotees when they come to celebrate the annual Sinulog Festival.
As well as being burnt down twice in its history, the Santo Niño Basílica was also victim to the 2014 Bohol earthquake that registered 7.2 on the Richter scale. The earthquake damaged the church’s belfry and façade, so it is interesting to look at where it has had to be repaired. Below is a video of the actual collapse:
And finally to finish things off, here’s another interesting video by Explore Philippines that gives you a look inside the famous church: