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Established in the 16th century, the Historic Town of Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia.

The traditional Spanish chequerboard street plan opens up into a main plaza, in two parts. The Plaza Salcedo is the longer arm of an L-shaped open space, with the Plaza Burgos as the shorter. The former is dominated by the Municipal Hall and the Provincial Capitol and the latter by the cathedral. The urban plan of the town closely conforms to the Renaissance grid plan specified in the Ley de las Indias for all 149 new towns in the Spanish Empire. There is, however, a noticeable difference between Vigan and contemporary Spanish colonial towns in Latin America in the Historic Core (known as the Mestizo district), where the Latin tradition is tempered by strong Chinese, Ilocano and Filipino influences.

St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. Burial place of the great Ilocano poet Leona Florentino. It also houses the replica of the Miraculous Santo Cristo Milagroso (the original being in Sinait, Ilocos Sur).

St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral

St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral

Inside St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral

Inside St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral

Facade of St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral

Facade of St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral

Arzobispado de Nueva Segovia (Archbishop’s Residence) is located next to the Vigan Cathedral, it is the only Archbishop’s Residence still in use that was built during the Spanish Era.

Arzobispado de Nueva Segovia

Arzobispado de Nueva Segovia

Plaza Burgos – dedicated to the memory of Father Jose Burgos. Located beside the Vigan Cathedral. Depending on the weather, the streets surrounding it (except for the street adjacent to the Empanadaan) is closed off to motorized traffic every Saturday and Sunday to allow people to walk the streets freely.

Plaza Burgos

Plaza Burgos

Plaza Salcedo – dedicated to the memory of the great conquistador Juan de Salcedo. It is also the site of Gabriela Silang‘s public hanging in 1763. Located in front of the Vigan Cathedral.

Plaza Salcedo

Plaza Salcedo

Vigan Heritage Village – Also known as the Mestizo District, it is what Vigan City is known for–streets lined with Spanish Era houses and cobble-stoned streets, which led to Vigan’s inscription in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Tourists can buy souvenirs or even ride a calesa (horse-drawn buggy). The Heritage Village centers on two streets: Plaridel Street and (mostly) Mena Crisologo Street.

Calle Crisologo: Vigan Heritage Village

Calle Crisologo: Vigan Heritage Village

Calesa

Calesa (Horse-Drawn Buggy)

Spanish-Era Houses

Refurbished Spanish Era House

The building materials used in Vigan are terracotta, wood, shells, stone and lime, all obtained from the surrounding area. The architecture of the typical Vigan house is derived from the traditional Filipino dwelling, the bahay kubo, a small one-room hut built from light woven materials (wood, bamboo, thatch), raised on stilts for ventilation and as protection against monsoon flooding. Such structures are no longer to be found in Vigan, but their influence is discernible in the much larger bahay na bato (stone house), a much more solid structure, with a stone-built lower storey surmounted by a timber-framed upper storey, and with a steeply pitched tiled roof (reminiscent of traditional Chinese architecture). The exterior walls of the upper storey are enclosed by window panels of kapis shells framed in wood which can be slid back for better ventilation. The Chinese merchants and traders conducted their business from offices and warehouses on the ground floors of their houses, with the living quarters above. This is characteristic of Chinese society.

Pagburnayan – a barrio in Vigan where tourists can see how the famous Vigan jars (burnay) are made.

Pagburnayan

Pagburnayan

Baluarte – a mini-zoo located in Salindeg where visitors can see a variety of animals (including tigers and ostriches). It is also a popular venue for special events such as seminars and conferences.

Baluarte

Baluarte

Source:  UNESCO and Wikipedia

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