Vigan is a historical city in the Philippines located on the western coast of the island of Luzon. It is known for its well-preserved colonial Spanish architecture and cobblestone streets and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Vigan also offers a range of cultural experiences, ranging from traditional fiestas to indigenous crafts to culinary delicacies. Visitors can gain insights into the city’s vibrant past with a visit to its many museums, churches, and landmarks.
You can also soak up unique cultural experiences with traditional fiestas, special Philippine crafts, and tantalizing culinary delights.
Experience the past that lives on in this gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site with a trip to Vigan – an unforgettable memory waiting to be made!
Vigan Facts for Kids
- Vigan is a city in the Philippines.
- It is known for its Spanish colonial architecture.
- Vigan was established in the 16th century.
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Vigan is home to the Vigan Cathedral.
- The city is famous for its pottery and embroidery.
What is the Etymology of Vigan?
The beautiful town of Vigan is historically known as Bee Gan, a Southern Min language that translates to “beautiful shore.” Initially, it was a trading hub for Chinese merchants from Fujian Province.
When the Spanish settlers came to colonize their land, they interchanged V and B to point out the /b/ sound and thus spelled Bee Gan as Vigan.
Today, one can still distinguish Chinese roots from various first-class Chinese creole families in the area. Some families have adopted Hispanic family names, while some, like the Syquia family, have kept their Chinese-derived surnames.
Meanwhile, another origin of its name is credited to the Biga’a plant, which used to sprout along the Mestizo River way back in the Spanish era. As a tribute to Prince Ferdinand, it was known as Villa Fernandina or “Town of Ferdinand.”
A Philippine Island with a Rich Cultural History
Vigan is an island in the Philippines that has a U.S. history stretching back to the 16th century. Before the arrival of Spanish forces in 1572, Chinese merchants had used its rivers to sail from the West Philippine Sea and trade goods such as gold and beeswax for commodities from other Asian kingdoms.
In 1574, Spanish explorer Juan de Salcedo returned and established a military presence there, taking control of much of what later became Ilocos province. He was rewarded by King Philip II with the title over this region.
The city saw a significant uprising during the Philippine Revolution and again during The Philippine-American War in 1899. When WWII began, it was another site of Japanese occupation until U.S. and Filipino forces won back control in 1945.
In 1999, UNESCO recognized Vigan as a “best-preserved example” of Spanish colonial towns in Asia due to its unique combination of Philippine, Chinese, and Spanish architecture.
It earned further international recognition when voted one of the New 7 Wonders of Cities in 2015 on account of its rich history and spectacular buildings from each culture that prevailed within its borders at different times across centuries.
A City in the Province of Ilocos Sur, Philippines
The city of Vigan is in the upper part of the island of Luzon, in the province of Ilocos Sur.
It’s geographically positioned at 120 23′ 15″ east longitude and 17 34′ 30″ north latitude, 3 hours (407 km) away from Manila, 82 km away from Laoag City, and 138 km away from San Fernando La Union.
The city of Vigan is composed of 39 barangays, with 30 rural areas spanning 2,366 hectares and the 9 Poblacion barangays covering 144.75 hectares.
Five different types of soils can be found in Vigan – Bantay Loam, primarily used for pastures; Umingan Sandy, perfect for upland rice and crops; San Manuel Clay Loam, best suited for cotton, bananas, and vegetables; Bantog Clays, which is a suitable source material pottery making; Beach Sand commonly seen on its shores.
What are Urban Structures?
Urban Structures are the physical arrangement of different buildings and roads in a city. This includes the layout of buildings and open spaces, as well as transportation routes such as streets, roads, highways, and bridges.
In Vigan, Philippines, an example of such a structure can be seen–the Spanish Colonial Town preserved by UNESCO is a historically significant asset for its well-preserved old structures.
In Vigan, Plaza Salcedo serves as the focal point for its urban plan, surrounded by administrative buildings like Casa Real and Municipio.
Religious buildings like the seminary of the archdiocese and St Paul’s Cathedral are interconnected to a church-run school Saint Paul College.
Plaza Burgos adds another unique design element to this city, supplementing the perfect architecture.
Fires in Vigan had caused considerable changes in its landscape, primarily during the American colonial period when Casa Real was changed into Provincial Capitol Building after being destroyed by fire, while the Archdiocese Seminary also faced similar damage in 1968.
Crisologo Street had some houses occupied by the Japanese during WWII.
Tourists often visit these locations, such as
- Syquia Mansion Museum
- Plaza Salcedo’s Dancing Fountain
- Padre Burgos House
- Bantay Church Bell Tower
In addition to Hotel Luna, visitors marvel at the distinctive architecture and setting of the colonial Spanish Philippines era, which combines native Philippine and Oriental designs.
The Spanish colonial influence still lingers around Bahay na Bato, as well as Earthquake Baroque Church, adding even more attraction to it, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, highlighting its long-term preservation.