Vigan is one of the oldest cities in the Philippines and part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, due to its rich Hispanic towns and Spanish colonial history. To this day, its heritage is well-preserved most intricately. Each visit will always be consistently and beautifully nostalgic. Get to know the city more personally with these featured attractions.
1. Relive the steps of national heroes at Calle Crisologo
Cobblestones and calesas – these are the two things that make Calle Crisologo distinctly Filipino. The cultural and historical sentiment comes to life instantly, especially at night time with empanadas and other Vigan delicacies are up for grabs for anyone who would like to understand how it was in the Philippines during the Spanish era. Otherwise known as Mena Crisologo Street, this mestizo district is lined with Spanish-style houses, and souvenir shops, that Filipino writers have been so inspired by for many years. Even to this day, the red-tiled roofs and capiz shell windows have been preserved and there is no other place like it. Taking a walk along its lamp-lit lanes feels like being in the 18th-century. The sentimental street is named after Mena Pecson Crisologo, one of the most respectable sons of Ilocos. He was a prominent writer back in the day and is known for the Ilocano version to Don Quixote.
Address: Crisologo, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Website: Mena Crisologo Street
2. Get refreshed on the Mestizo River Cruise
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Cruising along the Mestizo River at Vigan is fascinating. It lasts for about 45 minutes and tells the story of the City from how it was discovered, how the Spanish took over and how it became one of the most-visited cities in the Philippines. The short excursion promises a time of refreshment, while learning more about life through the eyes of the Ilokanos. The best thing about the Mestizo River is the annual candle floating ceremony during the Raniag Twilight Festival. This is specifically done in Barangay Beddeng Laud in the Celedonia Garden.
Address: Barangay Beddeng Laud | Mestizo River, Vigan
3. Look at life differently from Bantay Belfry’s vantage point
The high tower that sits on a hill just ten minutes away from Vigan is Bantay Belfry, built in 1591. Standing there, looking at the panoramic view of Vigan from the highest point of the area, is both uplifting and empowering. Reaching the top is not that easy, especially for those who have issues with height. Each step you take makes you reflective and once you reach the top, there’s a sense of empowerment. Symbolically, looking at life from this point of view allows its beholders to get some perspective. Bantay Belfry is known as the “people’s tower” alerting town folk of coming danger. Its nearby churches include the St. Augustine Church, with its nearly gothic exterior, and the baroque Saint Paul Cathedral.
Address: Bantay, Ilocos Sur
Website: Bantay Belfry
4. Revisit history: Father Burgos Museum, Leona Florentino House, and the Crisologo Museum
The Spanish have made the Philippines distinctly strong in the Catholic faith. To understand why Filipinos are the way they are, visiting the museums and churches are worth the time and experience, because these are living testaments of how the Filipino people came to be. Three of the most enriching museums are the Father Burgos Museum, the Leona Florentino House and the Crisologo Museum.
Named after friar Father Burgos, the Father Burgos Museum showcases the remnants of his patriotic life through family heirlooms, jewelry, photos and other memorabilia. The museum also focuses on his personal library, including his own copy of Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal. Father Burgos is highly regarded because he supported the rebellion of the Filipino people against the Spaniards in the plight for independence. This caused his apparent execution at Bagumbayan in 1872. Father Burgos Museum is open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Father Burgos Museum
Address: Burgos, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Website: Father Burgos Museum
History will always need a woman’s touch. This is the main reason why Vigan has the Leona Florentino House built in 1797. Leona Florentino was a Filipino poet who has garnered international recognition. She is also the mother of the pioneer of the labor movement of the Philippines, Isabelo delos Reyes. Located at the heart of Calle Crisology, this ancestral home is the city’s heirloom, dearly beloved by the locals because of Café Leona – one of Vigan’s most favorite culinary destinations. Here, Ilokano cuisine is highlighted, specially because it is best enjoyed with family and friends, buffet-style. Get ready to experience Vigan delicacies at their best.
Leona Florentino House
Address: Mena Crisologo Street, Plaza Burgos, Vigan City
Website: Leona Florentino House
The Crisologo Museum is all about Floro S. Crisologo – a prominent congressman responsible for the legislations of landmarks that benefitted the country. Unfortunately, political unrest got Floro shot in October 1970 and because of this, the museum was established to let his legacy live on. The Crisologo Mansion is open for public viewing throughout the week and is found on Vigan’s Liberation Boulevard.
Address: A. Reyes St, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Website: Crisologo Museum
5. Experience Vigan's festivities: Viva Vigan Festival of the Arts, Vigan City Fiesta, and the Tres de Mayo Celebration
Any place that is rich in culture will always have vibrant festivals. The Viva Vigan Festival of Arts is a weeklong celebration done in the first week of May, usually in the first week. It is celebrated to promote the value of Vigan as a center of history, in the hope of strengthening the advocacy to preserve and protect its cultural identity. The Vigan City Fiesta, on the other hand, is held every year on January 25. It commemorates the conversion of St. Paul, Vigan City’s patron saint. The Metropolitan Cathedral is dedicated to St. Paul. The Tres de Mayo Celebration is also religious in nature, where the people remember St. Helena and her son, Prince Constantine in their plight to seek the cross Jesus died on. It is a thanks-giving day, celebrated with a feast in honor of the Black Nazarene. Usually, a drama is performed to relive Helena’s plight.
Vigan City Fiesta
Website: Vigan City Fiesta
6. Abel-Iloko Weaving Tour
While loitering Calle Crisologo in Vigan, you may have seen an Abel-Iloko fabric. If you wonder how they were made, then go on a weaving tour at Rowilda’s loom weaving factory in Brgy. Camangaan. Here, you can watch several people do the manual-weaving for free or even try it for yourself. However, if you want to see the finish products, then visit Rowilda’s showroom along Calle Crisologo. You can buy here Abel-Iloko products such as shawls, blankets, table napkins, blouses, and placemats. So while in Vigan, take the opportunity to learn the art of weaving an Abel-Iloko fabric for free.
Rowilda’s Loom Weaving Factory
Address: Brgy. Camanggaan, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Opening hours: Weaving activity starts at 8 a.m
7. Black Beach Sand
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
While most of Vigan tourists spend their time visiting heritage sites, this beach in Mindoro village will surely offer you pleasant discoveries. This off the beaten track is stretched along Vigan City and sprawls further to other neighboring towns. It has silky black sand with powerful waves that smash to the shore. Swimming is not recommended here, but you can enjoy sightseeing. Also, you’ll enjoy the privacy it offers as people rarely visit this place. Should you want to have a long black beach experience then you may stay at Playa de Oro Resort.
Playa de Oro Resort
Address: Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
8. Baluarte Zoo
Enjoy an interactive wildlife adventure in Baluarte. The resort complex has a mini zoo that houses animals from other countries and those that are endemic to the country. This attraction will definitely be enjoyed by children and even those who are young at heart as they offer engaging attractions. Explore the zoo and marvel at Bengal tigers, peacocks, civet cats, iguanas, pythons and other reptiles and birds. You also have the chance to come closer to the animals and have your picture taken with them. If you are interested in hunting, you may also visit the Safari Gallery where preserved animals and hunting photos are exhibited.
Address: Quirino Boulevard, Tamag, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Opening hours: 7am - 6pm (daily)
9. Ilocos Empanada
When visiting Ilocos, be sure to give empanada a try. This is inspired by the Spanish empanada that has become one of the region’s most popular snacks. This treat is crispy on the outside and has a tasty filling inside. It goes well with vinegar and is best eaten while hot. You may get your sizzling empanada from street food stalls around Ilocos. To taste an authentic Ilocos empanada, you may go to Insiang’s Empanada or Irene’s Empanada which are both located on Calle Salcedo corner Calle V. de Los Reyes. Meanwhile, you can also visit Abuelita’s if you want to have it from a restaurant.
10. Antique and Jewelry Shopping
Being a heritage site, Vigan is the perfect place to find various antique items. Their local products and antiques are definitely a good souvenir to bring back home. When looking for a unique antique item visit Lucy’s Antique Shop which is nestled on the ground floor of the old house of Don Renato Peña along Calle Crisologo. It is home to various old items like house furniture, wooden decorations, paintings, porcelain plates, vases, and glassware. Also, they sell souvenir key chains, native bags, and t-shirts.
Lucy’s Antique Shop
Address: Crisologo, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Vigan City is beautifully rich in all the significant ways
For a weekend well-spent or maybe for a simple change of scenery, Vigan City is a great place to be. Enjoying the people, the food, sights and long walks will surely make each one of its guests feel like a Filipino.
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