Located on the western coast of Luzon, about 400 kilometers from the city of Manila, is the Unesco World Heritage City of Vigan. It is the capital of Ilocos Sur and where you can find the most intact model of a Spanish colonial town in Asia with a distinct European atmosphere. Built it the 16th century, the town is famous for its cobblestone streets and unique architecture.
One of the very first Spanish settlements in the country, Vigan was founded by Juan de Salcedo who arrived by way of what is now called Pagpartian through the Mestizo river. He noticed a growth of lush green plants along the riverbanks and asked the locals what they were called. He found out that these plants were the biga’a where he derived the name Vigan.
It became the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia and at the time of the founding is named Villa Fernandina, in honor of King Ferdinand. As the city grew it is also expected that some changes occur. The town was later named Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan.
There are several museums found in Vigan. Most of them are dedicated to the national heroes who were born in the town. Some of the old houses that line up the cobblestone streets have been turned into cozy inns and souvenir shops.
Some of the places that you might want to see while visiting Vigan are:
The old colonial houses found along Calle Crisologo. Made of brick walls and red clay and tiles that were made to last and survive earthquakes, these great huge houses were built by the rich Chinese traders.
The majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral was built by the Augustinian friars and has twelve altars and three naives. It is designed with the Baroque style that features Neo-Gothic and pseudo Romanesque motifs. The octagonal shaped bell tower is located 10 meters to the south of the cathedral.
The Palacio de Arzobispado is a rich repository of religious artifacts accumulated through the years. It was built in 1783 as the official residence of the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia and features a museum which houses a collection of paintings and manuscripts.
Burgos National Museum. The ancestral home of Padre Jose Burgos, one of the three Filipino friars who were garroted by the Spanish for advocating church reforms, contain the paintings of Esteban Villanueva depicting the 1807 Basi Revolt. It is home to a collection of antiques and manuscripts.
There are many places to stay and visit in Vigan. Comfortable inns and hotels are abundant suitable for any type of budget. From Manila you can ride a bus or take a plane to Loag City and then ride a bus to Vigan. Tour packages are also available so you don’t have to think about where to go and what transportation to take. Truly a place worth visiting if you are looking for quiet fun and love old architectural buildings.
MORE VIGAN PICTURES, from PBASE Vigan Ilocos Sur