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.