Vigan City

Venturing to Vigan City is one of the most popular things to do when visiting the Filipino island of Luzon. This historic city was spared during WWII, and it is considered to be the finest remaining example of a Spanish colonial city in Asia. In 1999, UNESCO declared Vigan Philippines a World Heritage Site, and it's not hard to understand why. The cobblestone streets and colonial-era buildings make for a unique setting, and visitors are likely to feel as if they've been whisked off to Spain itself. 1572 was the year that Spanish explorers first claimed the area that is today Vigan City, and they no doubt favored the strategic location of this area. Three rivers separate the city from the mainland, and to the immediate west is the South China Sea.

Even before the Spanish arrived in Vigan Philippines, the port town was already an important trading post. Traders from China were among the most common visitors early on, and they often came seeking products that were made by the native peoples in the mountainous Cordilleras region. Like Vigan City, the Cordilleras region can be found in the northern part of the island of Luzon. When visitors aren't taking in the historical Vigan attractions that can be found around town, heading into the mountains for some recreational fun is always an option. The nearby town of Sagada is renowned for being a cool, mountain hangout, and the larger city of Baguio, which can be found down the coastline, offers urban amenities within easy reach of the highlands.

Understandably so, many visitors to northern Luzon choose to base themselves in Vigan City, as it is hard to deny the town's historic charm. Enjoying a walking tour is one of the top things to do in Vigan City, and visitors can admire old colonial homes and a number of other interesting attractions while exploring the streets. There are nearly 40 different villages in Vigan, and walking tours can start at any number of points. The two main squares on the north side of town can make for ideal places to begin a walking tour. Plaza Burgos is the livelier of the city's main squares, and locals like to hang out in this pleasant plaza. Plaza Salcedo, in turn, boasts the St. Paul Cathedral, which is home to an interesting museum. Among the highlights at this museum is the collection of photographs that were taken by a former city resident in the late 1800s

While making the rounds in the various villages in Vigan, stopping by the Burgos National Museum is recommended. This museum, which houses some interesting artwork, is set in an old home. Adjacent to the home is an old provincial jail that dates back to the mid-1600s. Two other interesting historical attractions that many visitors add to their itineraries while exploring the villages in Vigan are the Crisologo Museum and the Syquia Mansion Museum. Both of these museums offer an interesting look at the lives of some the wealthiest and most powerful families from Vigan City's past.

There really isn't a bad time to visit Vigan Philippines, though some travelers like to come when the city's main festivals are in full swing. These festivals include the Vigan Town Fiesta and the Viva Vigan Festival of the Arts. The former features a parade and live music and honors St. Paul the Apostle, while the latter is a cultural celebration that includes lots of fanfare of its own. In addition to a fashion show, the Viva Vigan Festival also features a parade and lots of interesting food to try. As one might imagine, the Vigan City hotels tend to fill up fast when the main festivals are going on, so booking ahead is recommended.

Top image: fitri.agung (flickr)
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