At first glance, it may appear as simply ordinary, just like any other century-old edifice that can be found anywhere in the country. But when closely scrutinized, it divulges an intricacy of art and history. With its remaining structure after it was destroyed during the Battle of Liberation in 1945, the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica in Intramuros, Manila features a facade with three tympana of well-decorated arches that remind everyone of the Romanesque architecture, reminiscent of the Spanish era and also of medieval Europe.
The center tympanum has five leveled arches. Each arch has a unique acanthus leaf and floral pattern such that looking at in a 45-degree perspective, both the ceiling and frontispiece would have a similar design as if they are mirrored on both sides. From underneath at a 90-degree angle, each arc’s ceiling shows a distinctive pattern style. These arches are each supported by a false column. A trumeau in the middle separates the two main doors.
The other two tympana on the both sides have three arches also with acanthus and floral designs that are also supported by three square Roman “semi-Corinthian” columns. They are a bit smaller than the main tympanum. A unique intertwine of seemingly grapevine and a cross pattée highlights the center of the semi-circle.
The Latin phrase inscribed at the main tympanum that says, “Tibi cordi tuo immaculato concredimus nos ac consecramus,” is the consecration and entrusting of the Church to the Immaculate Heart of Mary led by Pope John Paul II in his 1981 Papal visit. The Manila Cathedral is a minor basilica with the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception as the patron saint.
Tympana are important parts of classical architecture especially from the Romanesque and Gothic periods.