"The oldest city north of the Philippines" Vigan by joiwatani
Vigan Travel Guide: 417 reviews and 1,221 photos
Vigan, Ilocos Sur is very unique and has so much history. Originally, during the Spanish period, it was called Villa Hernandina. It was the center of the government during the Spanish time. It was built in 1572.
Although it has been almost six hundred years that passed, the remnants of the Spanish regime can still be seen in the city. It showed on the old brick buildings where the Spanish consquistadores used to live, the old brick roads and alleys they used to pass, the churches they built for their friars, and the Cathedrals where they promoted their religion to the local people.
From the Spanish built churches to the brick-houses, you seemed to be walking back in time when the Spaniards colonized the Philippines.
It is quite an experience to ride on a "caritela" , a carriage pulled by horses.This is one of the transportation preserved by the city.
The Vigan Cathedral and the adjacent building houses the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. The cathedral was built in the early 1500's and it still has the original building that withstood natural disasters of storms and typhoons.
What do you need to do in Vigan?
First of all, make sure to visit the Vigan Cathedral. This is an old church that showcases the ornate architecture of the Spanish colonizers. In the old days, while they built this church, the Spaniards imported the tiles from Italy. The chandeliers were from Europe and the statues are centuries old. The benches were made from one slab of mahogany trees.
Make sure to go to the "Pagburnayan" (Pottery), where the local people make water jugs, earth pots and pans, "dalikan" (a local cooking stove of the Ilocanos) and flower pots. This is one of the many occupations in Vigan that still exists today.
Visit the Vigan Plaza. You can't miss it because it is fronting the Vigan Cathedral. Also, adjacent to it is the Vigan Municipio (Municipal Building).
Go to the market and eat the Vigan delicacy of "empanada" (made of riceflour and beans), "bibingka" (sweetened riceflour cake with cheese and coconut) and other local pastries. Also, go to the "toru-toru" (market) and try the local "lumo-lumo" (local dish- it is really, really good!).
There is also a museum of the Crisologo's where you can see how the old rulers of the province of Ilocos Sur lived and ruled.
And don't forget to make sure to stop the local ice cream man and buy their local ice cream in pandesal (bread).
Personal Note: I used to work here - the building at the left side of the Vigan Cathedral- which was renovated and rented by fastfood chain like Chow King and McDonald, etc. When I came to visit Vigan in 2010, I was sad to see the old building where I used to work as an editor of Timek Ti Amianan (Voice of the North), a local newspaper managed and owned by the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. They tore down the old building which was of historic value and replaced it to a new building.
Also, my office before as a Provincial Legal Officer of the Department of Agrarian Reform was at the second floor of the Aniceto Building.
I love Vigan because this was where my last job was before I immigrated to the United States in 1990.
The caritela is one of the oldest transport in Vigan. The local people had been transporting passengers in this kind of carriage since 1570! The caritela owners own their own horses and carriages and the profession is passed from one generation to another.
Riding a caritela is very relaxing. You can hear the rhythmic footsteps of the horse as it leads the carriage. The best part of the ride is that you can actually see most of the things that you passed along the way.
Before reaching Vigan, you see a bell tower in Bantay (Mountain). This tower was built 500 years ago when the Spaniards occupied Northern Philippines and developed Vigan as their city. The Spaniards used slave labor to build churches and bell towers to spread Catholicism.
- Pros:Historical and Cultural place to visit
- Cons:Noisy tricycles
- In a nutshell:It takes you back in time when the Spaniards ruled!
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