Vigan, with its centuries-old edifices, is a breathing reminder of what was once a royal city.
One of the earliest Spanish settlements in the country, Vigan was founded in 1572 by Juan de Salcedo who patterned its design to that of Intramuros (Old Manila). It became the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia and was called Ciudad Fernandina in honor of King Ferdinand.
Today, Vigan retains much of the patina of 18th century Castillan architecture as seen in some 150 stone houses which stand in the town’s Mestizo District, notably Mena Crisologo Street. Many of these ancestral homes are still in good condition and some have been turned into cozy inns, museums, and souvenir shops.
Along with the homes are other vestiges of the town’s colonial past:
The majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral was built by the Augustinian friars along the distinct “Earthquake Baroque” style of the Ilocos region and features Neo-Gothic and pseudo Romanesque motifs. Standing on an elevation west of the cathedral is Plaza Salcedo, the oldest monument in Northern Luzon. The Archbishop’s Palace is a rich repository of religious artifacts from the Ilocos region. Plaza Burgos was built in honor of Fr. Jose Burgos, one of three Filipino priests who were garroted by the Spaniards for espousing church reforms.
But it is not only edifices which are preserved in this town inscribed in the World Heritage List. Viganos also remain steadfast in their traditional crafts, notably pottery (burnay) and handloom weaving (inabel).
The horse-drawn calesa is as much a presence in the streets as motor vehicles.