The Cagsawa Ruins – Beautiful Sunday
My Share for #BeautifulSunday initiated by @ace108
In our last episode, we reached the ruins that are very popular in the Bicol region. We first had lunch before exploring the place and had a very interesting dessert that is hot and cold. We had very good feedback from the readers regarding the chili ice cream. Some are willing to try it but to some, it was just too weird. In this episode, we will be exploring the Ruins of Cagsawa located in Daraga, Albay Philippines. A church that has been said to that it was buried by ash and lava when Mayon volcano erupted. Come with me on a tour as I take you around the beautiful ruins.
The Cagsawa Ruins
If you are interested in this series of our tour in the Bicol region. Feel free to check out the previous episodes.
Part 2 Balatan Public Market
Part 3 Baresbisan Beach Resort
Part 4 Discovering Life by the Road
Part 8 The Antlers of Ocampo
Part 9 Nabua Church
Part 10 Divine Mercy Monastery
Part 11 Road to the Ruins
As you could see on the map below. The Cagsawa ruins is near Mayon Volcano and you could have a great view from here if you ever visit the place.
Let me just refresh you regarding the entrance fee:
8 years old and above – 20 pesos ($.39 USD)
7 years old and below – 10 pesos ($.20 USD)
Parking Fee in case you bring your own vehicle
Cars – 30 pesos ($.59 USD)
Motorcycle and Tricycle – 20 pesos ($.39 USD)
The view from the entrance is spectacular seeing the protruding bell tower along with the background of the famous Mayon Volcano. It was a shame though that clouds were covering up the summit of the volcano. The Mayon volcano has been famous around the world because of its perfect cone.
Cagsawa Ruins is a popular tourist destination as is also known as National Cultural Treasure in the Philippines.
The Municipality of Daraga is rich with history and the name is means “maiden”. In the local dialect here it is a word used for unmarried women. The settlers arrived here in the 12th century which is composed of traders. In 1578 Franciscan missionaries and named the place Cagsawa.
Centuries have passed and stories that have been passed on that the church was buried completely by lava, mudflow, and ash due to the eruption of the volcano. As you could see that the only visible part of the church is the bell tower.
The Cagsawa church was built in 1587 but was burned down by Dutch pirates in 1636. But you cannot put down the faith of the people as it was again rebuilt in 1724.
The church may have crumbled but the bell tower stood the test of time. The structure of the bell tower has withstood typhoons, earthquakes and previous major eruptions from the volcano. Last recorded minor activity from the volcano was in 2018 in which steam was coming out of the volcano.
Today the tower is slowly being claimed by nature as plants have grown on the roof and parts of the tower.
On February 1, 1814, the strongest eruption was recorded. The tragedy has killed around 2,000 people. History says that the townsfolk took shelter in the church hoping they would be saved from the eruption. Unfortunately, instead of sanctuary, it became a death trap and many people were killed by lava and lahar flow.
It is also been said that large boulders were spewed out by the volcano damaging the structure. If you would carefully inspect the photos you would see large black boulders around the area.
Contrary to the stories that have been told recent findings prove that the church was not actually completely buried by the lava. There were photos found that after the major eruption the facade of the structure still existed. Showing that only almost half of the church was buried.
I believe this is suppose to be an entrance to the bell tower from the second floor.
Let’s have a look and see what is inside the tower.
The entrance has been sealed off by this metal gate to keep people from entering the tower.
Inside pieces of stones have fallen off the walls and the floor might have been cemented already. Normally bell towers have a spiral staircase that would take you to the very top.
No more remnants of the stairs can be found and also I am wondering what happened to the church bell.
I am imagining that some people might have also taken refuge in the tower but was not spared due to the intense heat.
Now the inside looks like a dungeon from medieval times.
Also recent findings suggest that the remaining structure was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1950 which is years after the major eruption.
This is what now remains of the inside of the church. It looks to be like the supporting columns of the upper part which connects to the roof.
These are windows from the upper part of the church. It is possible that stained glass windows once decorated this window.
The place now looks like a courtyard decorated with stone ruins and old wood.
Pillars still stands and proves that architecture was strong back then but was not strong enough to withstand the fury of Mayon volcano.
The place is very calm and quiet. Too quiet if I may say but behind it, all hides the suffering of the people who perished here on that fateful day.
In the back part, some divisions that look like rooms. The divisions somehow makes you feel that you are in a maze made from stones.
Centuries have passed, a lot of tourists visit the site every year. The place has become a site that is similar to a park. I have also seen a couple of lovers sitting on an isolated spots.
Some plants have completely covered parts of the ruins and as time goes by these walls will be overrun by nature.
View of the tower from the back part of the church.
Here is another window that has been turned into a pathway. You would need to crouch if you are going to pass thru here.
Black stones are piled up in one section of the window. The rocks probably may have come from the volcano that was spewed out or carried down by the mudflow.
Since this is the upper part of the church beneath all these hides more stories and relics. If this was excavated a lot of artifacts maybe discovered but I think the place was never excavated. I am not sure if those who were trapped were recovered from this place. I guess the place has been left alone as to not disturb the final resting place of those who perished.
Further at the back, another part of the church is buried. Behind it is the Mayon volcano that left the church in ruins. At this time we still could not see the greatness of the volcano as clouds still cover the summit.
Walls of the back part of the church that used to be more than two stories high. Just by looking at it and not knowing the story behind it would make you think that it was just a single-story structure.
From this view, I never realized that the tower was leaning a bit on the left side. Since it stood the test of time I’m sure that it would remain standing for more years to come. They probably always check the stability of the structure since this is a tourist site.
This ends our tour in Cagsawa Ruins and I hope you enjoyed the walk with me. I would have included this on the list of the churches that I have visited but I realized that it is more of a tourist attraction now. Let me know what you think. Can we still consider this place as a church or a tourist attraction? Please do let me know what you think about the tour as I would love to hear from you.
Until next time, hope to see you again and enjoy the rest of the weekend.
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All photos are original and taken with
Lumix GX85 12-32 mm kit lens, Olympus 40-150 mm
and Sigma 50 mm