The Basilica Minore de San Sebastian (San Sebastian Church) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica in Manila. It is the seat of the Parish of San Sebastian and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The Church of San Sebastian was raised to the status of a minor basilica by Pope Leo XIII on June 24, 1890.
Completed in 1891, San Sebastian Church has been recognized by the UNESCO as the only all-steel church or basilica in Asia. It has also been implausibly reputed to be the first prefabricated building in the world, and more plausibly claimed as the only prefabricated steel church in the world. In 2006, San Sebastian Church was included in the Tentative List for possible designation as a World Heritage Site.
The prefabricated steel sections that would compose San Sebastian Church were manufactured in Binche, Belgium. In all, 52 tons of prefabricated steel sections were transported in eight separate shipments from Belgium to the Philippines. The walls were filled with mixed sand, gravel and cement.
The connection between Gustave Eiffel (the French engineer behind the Eiffel Tower) and San Sebastian Church was reportedly confirmed by historian Ambeth Ocampo while doing research in Paris. Ocampo likewise published a report that in the 1970s, the famed architect I. M. Pei had visited Manila to confirm reports he had heard that Eiffel had designed an all-steel church in Asia. When Pei inspected San Sebastian Church, he reportedly pronounced that the metal fixtures and overall structure were indeed designed by Eiffel.
San Sebastian Church has two openwork towers and steel vaulting. The basilica's central nave is twelve meters from the floor to the dome, and thirty-two meters to the tip of the spires. The interior of the church displays groined vaults in the Gothic architecture style. The steel columns, walls and ceiling were painted by Filipino artist Lorenzo Rocha and his students to give off a faux-marble and jasper appearance.
Basilica of San Sebastian, Manila Wikipedia Entry