One of UNESCO World Heritage Site to visit in the Philippines is Vigan Heritage Village. The village gained recognition globally for being able to preserve its unique cobblestone streets and their Spanish colonial architecture that will definitely take its visitors back in time during the Spanish occupation in the country.
As the Village’s World Heritage inscription states, “it is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia.” Vigan’s architecture is a combination of the influences from Europe and China that shaped the townscape through the years.
When the Spaniards were sent by King Philip II for an expedition, he sent out Captain Juan de Salcedo to navigate the coast of Los Ilocanos departing from Manila. Don Juan Salcedo founded the Villa Ferdinand de Vigan, named after the King’s late son, Ferdinand. He was awarded the province of Ylocos which now consists of the Ilocos and nearby provinces.
The village was used as a central hub of commerce, religion, and government in the North. Most traders and barters of Chinese and European roots would meet in Vigan for business purposes. Augustinian Missionaries spread Christianity, while the Spaniards overtook the government.
As old stories go, when Don Salcedo was asking the natives what the place is called, the natives couldn’t understand him due to the language barrier as he speaks Spanish. He used hand gestures pointing the ground and the natives thought he was asking what crops are planted thus answering him with “bigaa apo, bigaa apo,” a plant related to the taro family resulting to the province being called as Bigan.
Aside from sightseeing the Spanish Colonial architecture, you may enjoy other fun activities around the historic village. You may ride a kalesa (horse carriage) for a more historical experience touring around the village. A visit to Calle Crisologo is highly recommended if you are a fan of unique antique pieces and hand-made souvenirs.