Quirky Attraction: The Sinking Bell Tower of Laoag, Philippines

The Sinking Bell Tower of Laoag
Address: Brgy. 14, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Philippines (Google Map)
Cost: None
When to Visit: During daylight hours
Time Needed: 5-10 minutes
Website: Wikipedia page (unofficial)

sinking belltower pic

Laoag City in the Ilocos Norte province of the Philippines is not known for tall buildings. So a 147-foot tall bell tower is sure to stand out.

Especially when it shows the signs of weathering and history that you’d expect from a structure built in the 17th century.

The “sinking bell tower” earned its name from the fact that it was built on a sandy foundation, and therefore it continues to sink into the ground at the rate of about one inch per year.

Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the sinking bell tower is one of those quirky feats of engineering that manages to endure even if its original design wasn’t perfect.

The tower still serves its purpose, ringing to call people to mass at St. William’s Cathedral, which sits nearly 280 feet away. St. William’s Cathedral is one of the most striking buildings in Laoag:

saint williams cathedral laoag

You won’t need more than a few minutes to check out the bell tower and the nearby church. The church has survived fire and earthquakes, so it has a lot of history.

The bell tower has also endured the numerous earthquakes that are common in this part of the world.

sinking bell tower laoag
The Laoag sinking bell tower from a distance.

At least the tower appears to be sinking uniformly. It doesn’t appear to be in any kind of imminent danger of falling or suffering permanent damage.

Will this thing tumble over eventually? Eh, perhaps. Or maybe it will just sink straight into the ground and be completely buried 1000 years from now!

About Laoag City

Laoag is the capital city of Ilocos Norte. The city is located along the coast of the South China Sea. It has 111,000 residents as of the last census.

The Spanish ruled the city in the 1500s, and their influence can still be seen in many ways.

The climate here is tropical, with average high temperatures close to 90 F (32 C) every month of the year. Laoag gts heavy rains from May through September, but little rain the rest of the year.

This is the tallest building in the city. Only authorized persons may enter the tower, so tourists will have to settle for taking a photo from the outside.

ilocos norte tower

Not far from this area are the bustling Laoag market and the big “LAOAG” city welcome sign, so you can stroll around and see them all.

Laoag isn’t nearly as popular as some other touristy areas of the Philippines, but it’s an interesting area for history and culture.

There are so many amazing sights in the Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur provinces, so make sure to check them out. See the historic Paoay Church and ruins, and the Malacanang of the North.

See also the fascinating city of Vigan to the south in Ilocos Sur. And don’t forget to sample the unusual foods of the Philippines.

How would you feel bout visiting a sinking bell tower?