Vigan, Spanish-Filipino Influenced Architecture Heritage

Vigan, Spanish-Filipino Influenced Architecture Heritage

Vigan is a city situated on the western coast of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines. Nestled in Ilocos Sur, Vigan is situated along the Abra River, strategically accessing maritime trade routes.

In the 2020 census, Vigan, comprising 39 administrative districts, reported a population of 53,935 people.

Additionally, covering 25.12 sq km, Vigan features a mix of urban and historic districts.

Originating from Chinese settlers who communicated in Southern Min, the area was termed Bee Gan, meaning “Beautiful Shore.”

Subsequently, Spanish settlers transformed “Bee Gan” into Vigan, accurately representing the Hokkien Chinese name.

Notably, the heart of UNESCO-listed Vigan features preserved Spanish colonial architecture and ancestral houses.

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Diverse Land Use and Geological Composition in Vigan

60% of Vigan’s land is dedicated to agriculture, while residential areas form approximately 32%.

Additionally, commercial and industrial zones constitute nearly 3%, and around 1% is allocated for institutional purposes.

Moreover, Vigan’s land area includes forest reserves and fishponds.

The city exhibits sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, including alluvium, fluviatile, lacustrine, paludal, and beach deposits like coral, stools, and beach rock, primarily concentrated along its coastal areas.

An essential non-metallic mineral resource in Vigan is a type of clay used in crafting locally known earthen jars called burnay.

Architectural Influences of Spanish Colonial and Filipino Styles

Vigan’s architecture fuses Spanish colonial and Filipino influences, known as “bahay na bato.”

Furthermore, these structures, predominantly found along the iconic Calle Crisologo, feature distinctive characteristics that make them emblematic of the city’s heritage.

The architectural ensemble typically comprises two stories, with the ground floor constructed using stone or brick, providing stability and protection against floods.

Moreover, the upper floor, made of wood, boasts large sliding capiz shell windows adorned with intricate wooden carvings, allowing for ample ventilation and natural light.

The houses are characterized by red-tiled roofs, giving them a distinct Mediterranean feel.

Additionally, wrought-iron grilles and balconies create harmony in Spanish Baroque and local craftsmanship.

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Colonial Legacy and Trading Hub

Vigan’s history intertwines Spanish colonial influence, indigenous heritage, and a thriving trading post.

Founded in the 16th century by the Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo, Vigan quickly emerged as a key player in the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, facilitating the exchange of goods and cultures between Asia and the Americas.

Vigan’s Spanish foundation, Villa Fernandina, named after Prince Ferdinand, evolved into the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia’s seat.

Renamed Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan, it means “Ferdinand’s City of Vigan” or “Fernandine City of Vigan.”

The city’s strategic coastal location contributed to its economic significance, attracting merchants and settlers from various parts of the world.

Over the centuries, Vigan bore witness to the ebb and flow of colonial powers, experiencing periods of prosperity and upheaval.

Spanish rule’s legacy echoes in Vigan’s architecture, a fusion of European design and local craftsmanship.