The San Sebastian Church in Manila is known as the only fully-steel church in Asia. A shrine to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the church was built by the Augustinian Recollects in 1893 after the original stone basilica, built in the middle of the 17th century, was destroyed in an earthquake.
The iron sheets and panels were manufactured in Belgium and was assembled by local artists and craftsmen when it arrived in 1888. It’s beautiful stained glass windows were imported from Germany.
The innovative steel construction remains unique in Philippine architecture and reflects the daringness of the design and the skill of local craftsmen. Unfortunately persistent corrosion, leaks and poor maintenance threaten the structural integrity.
Experts also say that the steel bracing within the cavity walls is deteriorating and if left unchecked the church’s stability is severely endangered. San Sebastian and the local parish continues to play an active religious and social role in the community parish, and recently San Sebastian Church was proposed for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Mabuhay ang San Sebastian!