I felt I was in Rome the moment I entered the Basilica. The facade resembles of that in St. Peter’s Basilica. So solemn… so peaceful.
Basilica de San Martin de Tours is a Minor Basilica in the town of Taal, Batangas in the Philippines. It is identified as the largest church in the Philippines and in Asia, standing 96 metres (315 ft) long and 45 metres (148 ft) wide. St. Martin of Tours is thepatron saint of Taal, whose fiesta is celebrated every November 11.
The first churches
The town was founded by the Augustinian missionaries near the shores of Taal Lake in present day San Nicolas, Batangas in 1572. Three years after in 1575, construction of the church was started by Father Diego Espinar (O.S.A.) with Saint Martin of Tours aspatron saint. It was then rebuilt in 1642 using stronger materials. In 1754, the church was destroyed along with the town of Taal in the largest eruption of the Taal volcano. It was then that the town and church were transferred further away from the volcano to its present site, atop an elevated hill facing Balayan Bay. The ruins of the previous church can still be seen in San Nicolas.
Father Martin Aguirre donated the land and began the construction of the new church in 1755. It was continued by Fr. Gabriel Rodriguez in 1777 and by Fr. Jose Vitoria in 1782. Fr. Ramon del Marco decorated the church, built the convent and paved the “processional” road with bricks around the atrium of the parochial building. This church was damaged by the strong earthquake of September 16, 1852, which is centered near Taal Volcano, but no eruption from the volcano was recorded. -wikipedia.org
In December 8, 1954, the church was relegated into a Minor Basilica, the third in the country to be given such honor. The church was again restored in 1972 by the Taal Quadricentennial Council for the 400th anniversary of the town’s establishment. By Presidential Decree No. 375 on January 16, 1974, the church was declared a National Shrine. The damaged belfry was later restored in 1990 under the supervision of the National Historical Institute.
After lightning a candle.. and saying our prayers, we asked the guard if we are allowed to climb up to the bell tower. We just paid 50 pesos each, probably for the maintenance of the church and then, we were assisted and started scaling up the bell through the very small gates. The stone stairs to the top is so narrow that only one person can pass at a time.
Another important feature of Taal Basilica is its bell which is considered as one of the largest bell in the country. This massive instrument is 19 feet (5.8 m) in circumference at the lip, 9.33 feet (2.84 m) around the crown and 6.42 feet (1.96 m) in height. During the earthquake of 1942, the belfry collapsed and the bell fell from its location damaging and silencing it. The king of the bell, as it was previously known, is now hanging silently in its previous place on the restored dome.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From manila, you can take a bus (BLTB. Tri tran and Jam)take the Manila-Taal-Lemery route. (80). If from Tagaytay, you can either take a bus bound to Lemery and get off in Taal, or take jeepney. (15)
But if you are traveling from cavite and on a private vehicle, i suggest you take the route via E. Aguinaldo highway bound to Cavite-Tagaytay-Batangas.