Though only 500 meters long, Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur province, is one of the most beautiful streets in the Philippines. It boasts a dense concentration of centuries-old stone houses, lovely tungsten lamps, and antique cobblestone, where horse-drawn carriages or calesas still to this day are used for transport. In fact, the street is a pedestrian-only zone, save for calesas favored for touring the historic sites around town.
A few of the ancestral houses have become restaurants that serve Ilocos bagnet (deep fried pork belly) or empanadas. Some are now inns and souvenir shops for traditional inabel linen. Many handsomely crafted wooden benches are positioned throughout Calle Crisologo for visitors.
Calle Crisologo owes its name to the illustrious Ilocano poet, writer, and playwright Governor Marcelino “Mena” Crisologo. Previously, the street was called Calle de Escolta de Vigan, whose residents were mostly families who profited from the galleon trade that included Ilocos as a key port. When Governor Crisologo died in 1927, the street was renamed Calle Crisologo in his honor.
The street is part of Vigan’s picturesque Heritage Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This consists of about 200 beautifully restored houses dating back to the 16th century. The buildings on Crisologo particularly display a blend of indigenous Filipino and colonial European construction.
It took 10 years for Vigan to be named a World Heritage Site since it was submitted for consideration in 1989. The town was long rejected for inclusion reportedly because it could not compare with Spanish-Colonial cities such as Cartagena, Colombia and Trinidad, Cuba.
Local advocates campaigned that Vigan’s architectures more similarly reflect those of old Asian trading cities like Hoi An, Malacca, or Macau. In fact, many houses in Calle Crisologo were owned not only by scions of Spanish settlers but also wealthy Chinese who migrated to Ilocos Sur to set up businesses. Calling to the city’s rich history as a trading post ultimately proved effective.
To visit the historic and picturesque Calle Crisologo, one must reach Vigan City first. The best jumpoff point would be the capital of the Philippines, Manila, as many transportation options are available from here to Vigan, both by air and by land.
Traveling by bus from Manila to Vigan will be the cheapest option, although expect to spend around 8 to 10 hours on the road. There are many bus lines offering the direct Vigan route, with premium ones such as Partas Bus in Cubao and Farinas Transit in Pasay that feature WiFi, TV, and toilets; and regular bus companies such as Dominion Bus, Aniceto Bus, and Viron Transit at relatively lower fares. Some buses like Philippine Rabbit Bus Line, Florida, Maria de Leon, Baliwag, and RCJ Transit pass by Vigan as well, on their way to Laoag City. It is recommended to take the overnight trips so you can just sleep through the long ride and don’t save on accommodation expenses for one night.
Those coming from the Clark International Airport in Pampanga may ride a shuttle service or jeepney to Dau Integrated Bus Terminal where buses going to Vigan and Laoag await. If you are coming from Baguio, there are buses bound for Laoag that make a stop at Vigan. From Abra or Tuguegarao, buses from these places also stop in Vigan.
If you want to save on time, take a flight from Manila to Laoag, which takes only an hour, and ride a 2-hour bus trip going to Vigan.
Once you are in Vigan City, Calle Crisologo is just 500m away from the bus terminal, so take a quick tricycle ride or get there comfortably on foot.
The best time to visit Calle Crisologo and other attractions in Vigan City is during the dry season from November to May, as many of these sights are best explored by walking around. If you wish to avoid chances of rain and the intense summer heat, you can also choose to visit the dry yet colder months of December until February.
The month of January sees Vigan celebrating different festivals, so this is also a great time to immerse yourself in the town’s culture other than its wonderful sights and landmarks. Vigan is known for its longganisa, a local sausage known for its garlicky flavor, and the town celebrates the Longganisa Festival every January 22. Stalls selling this delicacy abound the area, so you should not miss on having a bite — or more. Just a few days after, on January 25, the town celebrates its Vigan Town Fiesta in honor of St. Paul the Apostle, with festive exhibits and cultural performances that last for an entire week. Calle Crisologo, already vibrant on normal days, becomes more alive during the month of May as the Viva Vigan Festival of Arts happens in the first week of this month, celebrating the rich history and culture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.