Paoay Church: A Fine Example of Earthquake-Baroque Architecture

Paoay Church, also known as St. Augustine Church, is among the four baroque-style churches in the Philippines built during the Spanish colonial era. It was completed in 1710 and it is famous for its distinct architecture accentuated by the buttresses on the sides and the back of the building. The Philippine government declared the church a National Cultural Treasure in 1973. Together with other baroque churches in the Philippines, the Paoya Church is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

paoay church

The Paoay Church, located in Ilocos Norte, belongs to the earthquake (or seismic) baroque architectural style, an interpretation of the baroque style adapted to the seismic condition of the country through reinforcements like the buttresses on the sides and the back. Since earthquakes ruined many churches in the country, a new kind of architectural adaptation was necessary.


The proportions of the church are lower and wider to lessen the damage of the earthquakes. Side walls were made thicker, and heavy buttresses were added to provide stability during shaking. The thickness of the materials decreases as the walls go up.

paoay church

The church has 24 stair-like buttresses of about 1.70 meters. The bell tower resembles a pagoda, and it dates back to 1793.

Bell towers of the earthquake-baroque style are smaller and stouter compared to the less seismically active regions. In some churches in the Philippines, the bell towers are detached from the main church so they do not fall over during earthquakes.

paoay church
paoay church
paoay church