The San Sebastian Church is located in Quiapo, one of Manila’s older districts. Surrounding it are rows of old houses. The Church of San Sebastian is made of a steel frame and panels and is known for its distinct characteristic – that of being the only neo-gothic steel church in the Philippines and in Asia.The steel parts were manufactured in the Societe Anonyme’s foundry in Binche, Belgium and were shipped to Manila. On June 12, 1888, the first shipment of steel parts were brought to the Philippines. For two years, the church was assembled with local artists and craftsmen joining the Belgian firm in applying the final finishing touches on this new church of steel. The stained glass windows were imported from the Henri Oidtmann Company, a German stained glass firm.
On June 24, 1890, the Church of San Sebastian was raised into the status of a minor basilica. The following year, on August 15, 1891, the all-steel church of San Sebastian was inaugurated and blessed. The interior of the church display groined vaults. Styled along neo-Gothic lines, the steel parts of columns, walls and ceiling were painted to resemble marble and jasper by Filipino artist Lorenzo Rocha and his students. True to the Gothic revival spirit of the church are its confessionals, pulpit and altars as designed by Filipino artist Lorenzo Guerrero. He with fellow artist Eulogio Garcia carved the statues of holy men and women. Trompe l’oeil paintings was used to decorate the interiors of the church.
The Church of San Sebastian is a reflection of the late 19th century innovations in architecture, art and construction.
The San Sebastian Church is currently listed on the tentative lists of UNESCO’s World Heritage List.