Basilica de San Martin de Tours is a Minor Basilica, under the Archdiocese of Lipa, is located in the town of Taal, province of Batangas in the Philippines. Standing 88.6 meters (291 ft) long and 48 meters (157 ft) is considered as the largest church in the country and is Asia.
The first Taal church was built in 1575 (dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours), near on the bank of Taal Lake (currently municipality of San Nicolas). For almost two centuries of existence the church continued to improve. In 1754 the town was devastated by the biggest explosion of Taal volcano, the church was crumbled down and left into ruins.
A Statue of St. Martin de Tours now stands on the site of the Old Taal church.
Due to the constant treats of volcanic eruption, in 1755 the church as well as the town was relocated where the church stand now. Unfortunately in 1852 another tragedy struck, where a strong earthquake hit the province and destroyed the church.
Four years after the destruction of earthquake another church was built at the same place. a new architectural design created and run the construction. Almost a decade, in 1865 the new church was inaugurated although it was unfinished. In 1878 the construction finally completed.
During the Japanese occupation the tower on the left side was destroyed. It was reconstructed, made it bigger and taller than the original
It was the biggest church in that time and remain the biggest up to present time.
The church was made into basilica on December 8, 1954 and declared as one of the country’s national shrine on January 16, 1974
The most noticeable features are the facade were the 24 classical columns in pairs and lined up two rows of six on top of the other, this is similar to the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Getting inside the Basilica.
Being the largest church in Asia, the Basilica also features the largest bells in the country. Unfortunately the biggest bell measuring 6 feet in diameter at the lip, 9 feet and 4 inches around the crown and 6 feet and 5 inches in height is no longer ringing. It fell during the the 1942 earthquake and now in display in the patio of the church.
At the left side of the Basilica is the residence of the priest and small museum, where visitors can roam around, Entrance is free.
Inside the museum are religious artifacts and some old household items.
Fishpond in between the museum and the priest residence.
Dinning hall of the priest and other church personnel and volunteers.
The bell tower is open 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, donation of Php 50.00 is collected to all visitors. The guard will assist visitors to reach the top of the belfry.
The narrow stairway leading to the tower.
During the restoration work of 2011 the traditional bells of the church was replaced by set of 3 automated bells chiming system.
From the bell tower is the panoramic view of the whole town as well as the view of Balayan Bay
The church is also popular choice for wedding.
From the Basilica, visitors can explore the town by foot only. Taal is the site of famous for ancestral houses and the town proper itself was declared as heritage town by the National Historical Landmark. The town is also known as the Balisong and Barong Tagalog Capital of the Philippine. The public market is also a place to visit, for langonisa and tapang Taal for best pasalubong.
HOW TO GET THERE:
By public Transport
There are numbers of Bus company bound for Lemery in Gil Puyat near LRT Station, EDSA-Kamias, and Araneta Center Bus Station. There are buses that stopped at the town center of Taal, just in-front of the church. If the bus is not passing the town of Taal, just inform the driver to drop you at the Taal-Lemery junction and take a jeep bound to town center. Travel time from Manila is about two and half hours.