Bantay Church is a Roman Catholic church in the Ilocos town of the same name. Also known as the Saint Augustine Parish Church, it’s one of the oldest surviving churches in the region dating back to 1591. Bantay Church is also famed for its grand design and architecture inspired by Western and European cultures.
Bantay Church is a major part of the Philippine history, with the church’s belfry once serving as a watch tower.
This tower, which stands on the top of a hill just a short distance from the church, is where Filipinos guarding the Bantay and Vigan towns positioned themselves to see any impending attacks from foreign enemies. This is also how the town got its name, as bantay means “to guard.”
Bantay Church was built by Augustinian friars in the 1590s, but it was heavily damaged during World War II. Restoration efforts were made in 1950, and today, the church is on the list of must-see attractions in Ilocos Sur.
Aside from riding a tricycle or jeepney going to the church, you can join a guided tour that will also take you to other destinations.
On your way to the Bantay Church Bell Tower, you’ll be climbing a series of stairs—one leading to the small gate at the base of the tower and the winding staircase inside the structure itself. From the top of the tower, you’ll see the vast expanse of Vigan, including the town of Bantay, the parish church, and the Vigan Heritage Village.
It is an all-year round destination and is open daily which means you can pay a visit to the church anytime.