The City of Vigan is a 5th class city and the capital of Ilocos Sur. It is a World Heritage Site in that it is the most intact example of a Spanish colonial town in Asia, and is well-known for its cobblestone streets and a unique architecture that fuses Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning.
When visiting the town make sure you sample the local longganisa (pork sausage), bagnet (air-dried, deep-fried pork), bibingka (rice cake) and the empanadas at the Plaza Salcedo. You can take a tour around town on a horse-drawn calesa. Vigan is also famous for antique (both authentic and faux) furnitures and handwoven textile.
Here are some of the historical places to visit in Vigan:
The ancestral house of Padre Jose Burgos, along Crisologo Street, has been turned into a national museum.
It showcases an excellent collection of archeological and ethnographic treasures, antiques, dioramas of local historical events, and photographs of Ilocano heroes and achievers. On its uppper floor, you will find a priceless collection of 14 Esteban Villanueva canvasses depicting the 1807 Basi Revolt.
Calle Crisologo is one of the main tourist attractions in the city of Vigan. A fairly well-preserved cobblestone street, a few hundred meters in length, and lined with many old buildings (that are intact, restored or in disrepair), it certainly takes one back a century or more to Vigan at its peak. Houses characterized by high ceilings, meter-thick stone walls, balconies, tiled roofs and ornate iron grillwork. These houses are still in use today as residences of the original builders’ descendants. Some have opened their homes to the public as museums and inns, while others transformed their ground floors into boutiques where you can buy gift items, antiques, fine antique reproductions, and Vigan furniture at reasonable prices.
Crisologo Museum in Delos Reyes Street is dedicated to one of its most colorful political families.
Several decades of feuding between rival clans and their private armies of hired guns turned Ilocos Sur into a political powder keg, especially come election time.
The museum houses the Crisologo family’s memorabilia, a rich collection of historical artifacts, antique statues of saints, antique furniture, and various ethnological pieces.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
The majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral (also called Vigan Cathedral) was built along the distinct “Earthquake Baroque” style of the Ilocos region and features Neo-Gothic and pseudo Romanesque motifs. Most of the original features of the church interior are still intact. The Cathedral has twelve altars, three naves, and a choir loft. Above the main doorway is an alcove that depicts the coversion of St. Paul. Other elements such as the Fu Dogs and the moldings on its facade and the brass communion rails give hints of the Chinese influence in the church’s designs and architecture.
The first Vigan Cathedral was ordered and built in 1574 by Juan de Salcedo. Another version of the church was again constructed in 1641. The present baroque-style building was constructed in 1790 and completed in 1800. Its bell tower is located stands separately in Plaza Burgos, 10 meters south of the cathedral.
The other major plaza of historic Vigan, Plaza Burgos is flanked by the the cathedral and the old “seminario” (which burned down in 1968). Its ambiance and the presence of kiosks offering local delicacies make Plaza Burgos a favorite promenade for local folks and visitors alike. It is a landmark tribute to the Vigan martyr priest, Father Jose P. Burgos. On the east end of the Plaza is the newly renovated, large stage where important events are held. The Plaza has an adequate and attractive lighting system, clean surroundings and mini Children’s Park. At the northwestern portion stands the century-old Bell Tower of Vigan Cathedral. The plaza’s special attraction are the “empanada” stands which are situated at its premises in the afternoon up to late evening.
Plaza Salcedo, named after Vigan’s conqueror Don Juan de Salcedo, is situated right at the center of Vigan Ilocos Sur. It is an elevated elliptical plaza, and among the most beautiful in the Philippines. It features the 17th century Juan de Salcedo Monument, the oldest one of its kind in Northern Luzon.
It was here in Plaza Salcedo where Gabriela Silang, a revolutionary hero, was executed by public hanging in 1763.
Palacio de Arzobispado
Completed in1783, the Arzobizpado is the official residence of the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia. The only surviving 18th century Arzobizpado in the country, the palace served as the headquarters of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898 and the invading American forces under Col. James Parker in 1899. Its Museo Nueva Segovia showcases ecclesiastical artifacts, antique portraits of bishops, a throne room, archdiocesan archives and other religious paraphernalia gathered from various colonial churches all over Ilocos Sur.
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