During the height of the Spanish colonial era in the 18th and 19th centuries, Vigan or Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan was the third most important city after Manila and Cebu. It was the center of Spanish colonial power in northern Luzon. The range of structures along the plazas and streets reveals the story of the town. Large and imposing buildings evoke political or religious power. Grand homes speak of wealth, while others speak of more modest means. The architectural ensemble shows that Vigan was the political, economic, religious, and artistic center of the region. The town is a living testament to the Spanish colonial era, a place that exerts a strong cultural influence to the modern Philippine nation.
More importantly, the architecture of Vigan relates the story of the Filipino, of how his constant exposure to foreign influences endowed him with the ability to adapt foreign ideas and combine them into a style that is uniquely his own. Vigan Survives as a unique representation of the adaptation process that the multi-cultural Filipino is so good at.
Notable Vigan urban spaces and architecture includes its town plaza, Plaza Salcedo; Saint Paul’s Cathedral; The Arzopispado, an excellent example of a priest’s residence in an urban area; Saint Paul’s College; the Provincial Capitol Building; Simbaan a Bassit (Catholic Cemetery Chapel); Calle Crisologo, an impressive row of houses lining each side of a cobbled stone street; Burgos Museum; and the numerous Vigan Houses, undoubtedly Vigan’s treasures.