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Sights and Attractions

Sinking Bell Tower

Sinking Bell TowerThe sinking bell tower is one of Laoag City’s most famous landmarks in fact one of the top Ilocos Norte tourist attractions.

The construction is typical of the Earthquake Baroque structures found in Ilocos. Built of old brick and stoned faced with limes stucco plaster, the tower rises in four tiers. The base with its massive rounded corners supports the graduated upper tiers noted for its graceful curved buttresses and corner treatments, giving it its early baroque appearance, the tower is crowned by a double dome topped with a cross.

The structure is claimed to be the most solid and tallest bell tower in the Philippines. It stands 45 meters high but probably stood higher before it began sinking. Augustinians built it on sand, blocks away from the church—missing what Christ said about wisely building on rock—and the sinking episodes had begun ever since. Its main door now is buried halfway—it used to accommodate a man sitting erect on horseback. So visit there while the door is passable.

The bell tower is part of the property of the St. William Cathedral 85 meters to the south. Bell towers built during this era are physically separate from the main church building. Just like the Paoay Church, the bell tower has the same earthquake Baroque architecture typical of Ilocano Spanish buildings.

Despite its sinking state (supposedly at a rate of an inch a year), the bell tower still continues its centuries-old purpose of ringing the bell to call Catholic brethren to mass.

General Information

  • Location: Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
  • Year Built: 1612
  • Built By: Augustinians
  • Architecture: Earthquake Baroque
  • Height: 45 meters
  • Distance from Church: 85 meters
  • Rate of Sinking: one inch per year