While churches are regarded primarily as places of worship, they have also been long treated throughout history as the centers of cultural and social activity within a community. This especially rings true of the hundreds of centuries-old parishes, cathedrals and basilicas scattered around the world that today stand testament to not only the religious commitment of worshipers, but also to the social and artistic progression of our civilization. Ranging from medieval Gothic Cathedrals to rare Expressionist Parishes, and whether with religious or artistic inclination, here are 10 churches worth checking out (and gawking over!) on your next international adventure.
10. St. Augustine Church, Philippines
This active parish was built of coral stone and bricks in 1717 and can be found in Paoay, Ilocos Norte in the Philippines. Commonly known as Paoay Church, the building is also an example of “Earthquake Baroque,” which, exactly as it sounds, is an architectural term coined to describe the modified Baroque-style rebuilding in places that experienced destructive earthquakes in the 17th and 18th centuries. The most noticeable characteristic of this style is the use of large buttresses on the back and sides of the building (which can be seen at Paoay Church at about 5.5 ft thick) to guard against future earthquake destruction. Also making this site unique is the adjacent coral bell tower, built in 1793 and rising 3-storeys above ground level, used historically as an observation post in several conflicts.