San Sebastian Basilica, Manila


The church at the center of the university run by the Order of Augustinian Recollects

Completed in 1891, it is an example of the revival of Gothic architecture in the Philippines.

It is the only steel-only church or basilica in Asia. It has also been implausibly reputed

to be the first prefabricated building in the world, and perhaps the only prefabricated

steel church in the world.

The prefabricated steel sections that would compose San Sebastian Church were

manufactured in Binche, Belgium. According to the historian Ambeth Ocampo, the

knockdown steel parts were ordered from the Societe Anonyme des Entreprises

de Travaux Publiques in Brussels. In all, 52 tons of prefabricated steel sections were

transported in eight separate shipments from Belgium to the Philippines, the first

shipment arriving in 1888. Belgian engineers supervised the assembly of the church,

the first column of which was erected on september 11, 1890. The walls were filled

with mixed sand, gravel and cement. The stained glass windows were imported from

the Henri Oidtmann Company, a German stained glass firm, while local artisans assisted

in applying the finishing touches of the steel church.

There is the strong persisting belief that Gustave Eiffel was involved in the design of the

church, however his personal notebooks only note the design of a church for the

Philippines 13 years before the San Sebastian church was constructed.