Sunday, March 11, 2012

Roadtrip to Ilocos: Exploring Vigan City

Vigan City is a very modern and clean city with plenty of restaurants, hotels, convenient shops and many tourist sights to visit. The climate in Vigan is ideal in the winter season with temperatures from 20 to 25°C but summer season is the best time to explore the city.

Visitors have choice options for mode of commuting when exploring the city. There are jeepneys and tricycles to transport them around the city. The tricycle transport system is color-coded according to the municipality they operate in. There are mini buses plying other places of interest which is a little off Metro Vigan. 

The most famous means of exploring Vigan is by the traditional Calesa or horse-drawn carriages. Exploring Vigan in a calesa is the most recommended as it give visitors chance to experience the nostalgic Spanish period. Calesas charge P150.00 ($3.50) per hour.

Vigan's renowned Calesas, a horse-drawn carriage

AJ with family in another Calesa

Trekking along Calle Crisologo in a Calesa

Plaza Burgos

Vigan historic, recreation and shopping areas are located within a relatively small district that one might even want to just walk around instead. The well-preserved Spanish architecture can be seen from Plaza Burgos, down to the streets of Plaridel and Crisologo. The vicinity of Plaza Burgos and Plaza Salcedo are also a great area for shopping.

Plaza Burgos

Plaza Burgos is the smaller of the two major plazas in the city of Vigan. It is right beside Saint Paul Cathedral’s Bell Tower. While Plaza Salcedo was constructed in honor of the Spanish conquistador, Juan de Salcedo, Plaza Burgos was built to remember the martyrdom of Father Jose P. Burgos, one of Vigan’s illustrious sons put to death by the Spaniards.

Cathedral of Vigan

The St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral is also known as Vigan Cathedral. It is a major religious landmark not only of northern Luzon but the country as well. The Cathedral follows a Baroque architectural design that has been modified by Ilocanos to strengthen the structure against earthquakes. Altough the façade is not as impressive as other prominent churches in the Philippines, the cathedral’s interior is something to be admired.

Marker of Vigan Cathedral

Facade of the cathedral

Saint Paul Metropolitan Cathedral aslo known as Vigan Cathedral

The main altar is silver-paneled divided into three naves with several minor altars and the brass communion handrails forged in China gives the interior a more complacent grandeur.

Main altar of Vigan Cathedral

Bantay Belfry & St. Augustine Church 

Bantay Belfry is located in Bantay which is part of Metro Vigan situated along the national highway. It is a ten-minute drive from Vigan Heritage City. Bantay Belfry which was built in 1591 sits on a hill offering visitors a commanding view of Vigan from the highest portion of the tower that can be accessed. It was said to be the people’s watchtower and part of the city’s defense that helps in alerting against the enemies. Bantay Belfry is popular among local tourists because scenes of the well-known Filipino film "Panday" were shot within and around the belfry.

Welcome archway of Bantay Belfry and St. Augustine Church

The Bantay Belfry, a panoramic capture

The Bantay Belfry

Visitors can climb flights of stairs that can be accessed from the entrance in the tower’s base. At the end of the climb, visitors are greeted by a huge, old bell. While on top of the belfry, one can rest and endlessly gaze upon the city, surrounding towns and mountains ranges of the the nearby province of Abra.

My ascend just below the bell tower

AJ managed to reach the top belfry

A few meters’ walk from the belfry is the St. Augustine Church. It was built in 1590. The Church has a deep brown, neo-gothic façade.

The surroundings of the church and belfry are regarded as historic grounds because it is here were visitors will walk upon the same grounds where Diego Silang and his troops fought with the Spaniards in 1763.

Calle Crisologo (Mena P. Crisologo Street)

For visitors who want to experience being transported back to the Philippine Spanish colonial time, a walk or a calesa ride through Vigan’s Calle Crisologo is a must. The tour will take more than a couple of hours through four blocks of cobblestone streets lined with heritage houses of the families of the Filipino-Chinese traders who rose to prominence during the time of vigorous trading in abel cloth, indigo, gold, tobacco and other goods that were transported to Vigan from all over the North.

Vigan Heritage Village - Also known as the Mestizo District, streets lined
with Spanish Era houses and narrow cobblestone streets

Vigan Heritage Village - centers on two streets; Plaridel Street
and (mostly) Mena Crisologo Street

The houses are simple and render a lovely subject for picture-perfect shots with their roofs of red tiles, thick walls, huge doors and stair cases leading to rooms of high ceilings and sliding capiz shell windows.

Though a trip to Calle Crisologo is enjoyable during the day especially because of the opportunity to shop for Vigan’s best products like antiques, abel woven products, bags, basi wine, burnay and dimili products, chicharon, jewelry, sweets, Vigan vinegar, bagnet, longganisang Vigan and woodcrafts in modest shops located at the ground floor of some of the grand houses, a walk through it is magical at night. Calle Crisologo is closed to vehicular traffic at any time of the day, the stillness and shadows that come with the night adds more to the 18th century ambience of the lamp-lit street that local and foreign visitors love.

Vigan Heritage Village - Visitors can buy souvenirs or
even ride a calesa (horse-drawn buggy)

Syquia Mansion - the Vigan residence of Elpidio Quirino,
6th President of the Philippines

Crisologo Museum - the residence of the Crisologo family
in Vigan converted into a museum

The street name Calle Crisologo was derive in honor of Mena Pecson Crisologo, one of the most-respected sons of the Ilokos region. He was elected president of the first Iloko writers' organization, Gimong Dagiti Umiiluko (Association of Iloko Writers) in 1923 and wrote numerous Ilokano novels, zarzuelas and literary translations.

Beatriz & Dominique, enjoying the calesa ride

Reminiscing - more fun in the Philippines

All pictures in this post is the exclusive property of White Dog Leader, Red 1 Leader & Associates. All Rights Reserved. 2012

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