Gustave Eiffel in Manila?

Gustave Eiffel had a major hand in the iconic landmarks in two world cities.  He designed the support structure for the Statue of Liberty.  He also designed a number of pre-fab iron buildings in Arica Chile including a church, customs house and government building. (Click here.)

But did he design a building, the Basilica of San Sebastian, for Manila?  According to our Holland America Destination guide he did, and that is backed up by Manila tourism websites.  But the plaque at the Church makes no mention of Eiffel, neither does its website.  Wikipedia has Eiffel’s picture on its entry about the Basilica but says while Eiffel’s involvement is commonly believed there is no hard evidence of his involvement.  Lonely Planet avoids the controversy by not listing San Sebastion at all.

According to the Manila tourism website the Spanish architect Genaro Palacion consulted with Eiffel in the design of the building.  The parish was founded in 1621 but lost successive churches to earthquake and fire.  The parish wanted a church that was both strong and flexible enough to withstand an earthquake and was fireproof.  Eiffel had built the iron buildings in Chile for just those reasons.  52 tons of steel fabricated parts were shipped from the workshop in 1888, assembly started in 1890 and was completed in August.  The style is neo-gothic, the windows were from Germany. The painting to make the inside look like Jasper was done by a professor and his students.  Filipino artist Lorenzo Guerrero designed the pulpit and the striking altar.  The building is designed to sway in an earthquake.

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