The pandemic, just like last year, has halted some Holy Week traditions that Catholics hold dear to their heart, including the time-honored Visita Iglesia.
For some, Holy Week is a time to quench their soul and be in tune with their faith; for others, it could mean a time to be with family and friends and get that wanderlust kicking in by going on a road trip for that much-awaited Visita Iglesia.
As we are again grounded this Holy Week, check out these churches’ virtual tours and views to go on with your Holy Week tradition of Visita Iglesia in the comforts of your home.
St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican
As one of the most important religious buildings in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica has attracted Catholics, the religious, and even those who are not because of its stunning architecture and historical significance.
St. Peter’s Basilica’s virtual tour captures 10 sites in its complex, including its major attraction, which is its stunning dome designed by Michelangelo in the 16th-century. With this tour, you can actually zoom in the dome, or any other areas to check out their magnificent details.
The opportunity to see the impressive pieces of art inside the Basilica like the Pieta and the statue of St. Peter on a throne is just right at your fingertips—and it’s for free! In pre-pandemic times, ticket price to get in the basilica is at $23 (about P1,100).
Through the tour, you can also see the altar, the nave, the altar of St. Jerome and views of St. Peter’s Square at night.
Click here to take a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Manila Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila
Manila Cathedral is one of the Visita Iglesia destinations during Holy Week. This Intramuros mainstay is a Neo-Romanesque cathedral that was destroyed by fire, earthquakes and the Battle of Manila during World War II but was rebuilt in 1954.
Its most recent renovation finished just in time for Pope Francis’ visit to Manila in 2015.
As Intramuros is closed to the public at this time, you can virtually do a Visita Iglesia through this Google Street View map of the cathedral. Click here to see inside Manila Cathedral.
St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
The St. Vitus Cathedral, the largest and most important temple in Prague, is a sight to be seen. The beauty of its exterior (especially its Western frontispiece) with a view of its gothic spires, flying buttress and gargoyles, matches its impressive interiors. Inside are awe-inspiring stained glass windows and numerous relics in its treasury.
You’ll be able to see all these in the Prague Castle’s free virtual tour. You just have to click the location in the map where you want to go and with that you’ll have your tour at your own pace.
And while you’re at it, explore the entire Prague Castle complex for a quick tour.
Click here to start your virtual tour of the St. Vitus Cathedral.
Minor Basilica of St. Martin of Tours, Taal, Batangas
The Minor Basilica of St. Martin of Tours, also known as the Taal Basilica, located in the charming town of Taal in Batangas, had a steady stream of visitors before the pandemic.
Those who go here for their Visita Iglesia usually take a trip to the town to see its heritage houses and do a food trip in the surrounding areas for some lip-smacking tapang Taal and the hearty Batangas lomi.
In 2017, two earthquakes brought significant damage to the structure of the 19th-century Neoclassical basilica. It underwent renovations that reportedly finished in late 2020.
If you miss doing the Visita Iglesia at the Taal Basilica, visit it virtually (with views of its interiors and the plaza outside the basilica) here.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is perhaps one of the most visited sites in Jerusalem. Cradled by the Christian Quarter, the church is known to house the three important sites in Christian faith—Christ’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.
Those who have been meaning to go to the Holy Land to trace the steps of Christ’s life on earth, this virtual tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre will allow you to take a step back, say a solemn prayer, and listen to the audio guide.
The tour starts in front of the church and all the areas are covered inside the virtual tour, like The Stone of the Anointing, which is said to be the spot where Jesus’ body was prepared for burial; the 18th-century Aedicule where the tomb of Christ is enshrined; Golgotha, which is regarded as the site of Christ’s crucifixion.
In this virtual tour, you can go inside the Aedicule, where the actual Holy Sepulchre is located, without lining up with thousands of people and marshals telling you that your time of prayer inside is up.
There is also an option to virtually light a candle—for health or for those who passed away—by donation basis, with the minimum donation of $5 (about P240).
Start your Church of the Holy Sepulchre virtual tour here.
Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Parish Church, Daraga, Albay
Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Parish Church, also known as the Daraga Church, was built in the 1700s by Franciscans that settled in the area
Its weathered Baroque façade and its walls are made out of volcanic rocks in the area. Several years ago, parts of the church were altered, like painting the façade of the church with white that then concealed its original stonework.
But good thing the National Historical Commission and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts stepped in to preserve the church’s cultural and historical significance with rehabilitation.
This church, which received many visitors during Holy Week for Visita Iglesia pre-pandemic, also has an amazing view of Mount Mayon.
For your virtual Vista Iglesia, visit Daraga Church through Google Street View.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C., United States
The Basilica is the largest Roman Catholic Church in North America and one of the 10 largest churches in the world.
With the click of your mouse, you’ll be transported to the Basilica and see up-close its interiors, including the Great Upper Church, the Great Upper Church Sanctuary, the Crypt Church and Memorial Hall.
Each zone provides historical information and you can zoom in your view to see the details of a particular area.
The virtual tour also allows you to visit all 80 chapels and oratories located in the basilica’s upper and lower levels.
Start your tour of the basilica here.
Duomo di Milano, Milan, Italy
The Gothic and Renaissance cathedral sits in the center of the square facing the forum. Pre-pandemic, people gather by its steps, with tourists taking photos or whizzing by for the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
For its free 360-virtual tour, The Duomo offers a closer look of its majestic interiors like the crypts with impressive details, the pulpit, tapestries and ancient wraps in its museum, and views of the cathedral from both the left and the right nave.
There is also an option to see The Duomo’s glass windows that were illuminated for Christmas, and the fantastic vistas of Milan from the cathedral’s rooftop.
When you physically visit The Duomo, you need to purchase Culture Passes, which start from 10 euros (about P580) up to 26 euros (about P1,500) with different inclusions. So, being able to see them virtually for free is definitely a steal.
Click here to visit The Duomo virtually.