Local and foreign experts describe Vigan as a "place
like no other". Its uniqueness lies in its historic townscape
which is an architectural blend of Asian, European and Latin American
influences. Being the only surviving colonial town in the country,
Vigan has more strung along the narrow streets of the old Mestizo
District, popularly known in the olden days as Kasanglayan (Chinese
Located in the Northern part of the Philippines, Vigan is 408 kilometers
northwest of Manila and includes area of the China Sea as a buffer
zone on the western side of the town.
Vigan, earlier known as " Ciudad Fernandina" from 1758
to late 19th century, is the oldest surviving Spanish colonial city
in the country. It has auspiciously escaped the bombs of World War
II unlike its sister cities, Manila and Cebu. How and why it has
survived the wrath of war is a fascinating story on its own.
Vigan brings images of antiquated houses, cobbled narrow streets,
calesas and friendly faces peering out of large windows; a place
where "time stood still". Yet, despite all the romantic
images this place provokes, much is still unfamiliar about Vigan.
The name came from the Ilocano word "kabiga-an" pertaining
to the plant "biga" abounds. Biga is a tuberous plant
(alocadia indica) that once grew along the banks of its rivers.
Vigan was once a thriving center for trade and commerce among the
people of Ilocandia and the Cordilleras. It is situated at the delta
of the Abra River (now the Mestizo and Govantes Rivers) going to
the South China Sea. This position at the mouth of the river most
probably afooded its existence as it was a fluvial harbor connected
to the China Sea, making trade possible with other islands and with
Today, Vigan was recently included in the prestigious UNESCO World
Heritage List in December 1999 and converted into a component city
last January 21, 2001. In partnership with the government of Spain,
the Vigan Master Plan is in the process for the revitalization of
the historic Vigan.