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15 Amazing Tourist Spots of Ilocos Sur: Mix of Culture and Community

Come to Ilocos Sur, one of the most significant historical regions in the Philippines, which combines the vibrant Ilocano culture with Spanish colonial legacy to create a unique and unforgettable experience.

In addition to being known for its centuries-old architecture, Ilocos Sur is an excellent destination for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.

Venture into these 15 tourist spots of Ilocos Sur for more amusing travel!


1. The Famous Vigan Cathedral

Photo Credits: Wikipedia

Leading the way of tourist attractions, the Vigan Cathedral is regarded as a prominent religious monument in northern Luzon and all around the Philippines. The original structure, constructed of thatch and wood, was completed in 1574. Back then, it was simply a small chapel. It wasn’t until 1641 that it was transformed into a church, and it wasn’t finished until 1800.

The architectural design of the Vigan Cathedral is based on a Baroque-inspired design that Ilocanos have changed to make the construction more earthquake-resistant, a design is known as “Earthquake Baroque.” It belongs to one of the most attractive tourist attractions in Vigan, therefore don’t miss out on it.


2. Calle Crisologo in Vigan

Photo Credits: Zen Rooms

For the reason that it is one of Vigan’s best-preserved heritage areas, Calle Crisologo exudes a distinct aura that transports you back in time.

Heritage homes established hundreds of years ago line both sides of the street, displaying Spanish-influenced architecture that has remained intact for several hundred years. Furthermore, because the park is blocked from automobiles, visitors may fully enjoy the cobblestone roadway of the Calle Crisologo.

Calle Crisologo is not just beautiful in terms of architecture and history. Still, it also has a dramatic love tale behind it that adds to its allure. Native tour guides tell the story of a Japanese general who fell in love with a Filipina and how their relationship saved Calle Crisologo and the whole city of Vigan from being bombed during World War II.

This story is based on a real-life happening. While it is unknown what transpired to the general and his girlfriend, their love story stays on in the towering structures of Calle Crisologo!


3. Baluarte Resort and Mini Zoo

Photo Credits: Wanderera

Baluarte Resort and its Mini Zoo is a must-visit destination in Ilocos Sur due to the numerous fascinating activities that people of all ages will undoubtedly love.

This safari adventure lodge, which is only 10 minutes away from Calle Crisologo, should be on your Vigan travel itinerary if you want to relish the best of the city.

Known as Vigan’s “Home of the Big Cats”, they take great pride in their eight Bengal Tigers, six White Lions, and two Leopards, among other sorts of animals, including those that are native to the Philippines.

Wildlife such as ostriches, spotted deer, and donkeys are allowed to roam freely in an open area so visitors may get up close and personal with them. There are additional cages for other species, such as camels, zebras, and reptiles, which are kept here.


4. Bell Tower in Bantay Church

Photo Credits: Trekearth

The Bell Tower of Bantay Church, more than any other structure in Vigan, provides the best panoramic perspective of the city. The belfry is perched on a hilltop above the Bantay neighborhood in northeast Vigan, and it has sweeping views.

At various times throughout the Spanish occupation and World War II, the watchtower provided an excellent vantage point from which the people of Ilocos could view the incoming enemy.

The tower is still remembered today by individuals who pose for photographs of the hill’s foot, making an illusion as if they are holding it close to their hearts.

To reach the top of the brick construction, you’ll need to walk

a twisting staircase, where you’ll find a giant bell hanging directly in the middle of the tower, just where you started.


5. Jar Factory in Pagburnayan


Photo Credits: Pinterest

Vigan is a site where antique arts and crafts are nourished up to the current day. As to making burnay jars in the local, pottery making is one of those long-lived artisan heritages that have survived.

It has been many years since the Ruby Jar Factory has been a popular site for travelers visiting Vigan City. They wish to witness and experience the art of pottery making.

A National Folk Artist named Fidel Antiporda Go is the owner of this property. In the town of Pagburnayan, it was his Chinese ancestors who were the first to start a clay jar pottery industry, which gave the village its name, Pagburnayan.


6. Salcedo Plaza

Photo Credits: Fritz

The Park adjoining Vigan Cathedral and the Provincial Capitol transforms from a photogenic haven during the day to a free-to-enter platform of dancing lights in the evening.

Plaza Salcedo has an outdoor light and water show comparable to those found in other nations. As night sets, travelers flock to Plaza Salcedo’s fountain area to see a stunning display of dazzling laser lights that brighten the square.

Pumps of water emerge from “dancing fountains” on cue, giving the illusion that they are moving with flashing lights and slow-to-fast music playing in the backdrop.

These are so brilliantly accomplished that you can envision the waters whirling and leaping, then settling to the same point before another round of captivating dance performances starts.


7. Burgos Plaza

Photo Credits: Wikipedia

This square, a short walk from Plaza Salcedo, is named from the late Padre Jose Burgos. His statue represents the priest’s martyrdom in the struggle against Spanish colonial rule.

After a long stride around the region, you can stop here to take pictures, people watch or rest your tired legs.

If you get hungry, try the best-selling and well-loved empanada. A type of pastry turnover packed with minced meat, veggies, and egg is one of Ilocos’ specialty food products on this side of town.


8. Santa Maria Church

Photo Credits: Vigattin Tourism

Having known as Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Santa Maria Church is a World Heritage Site of UNESCO as part of the Philippines’ group of four Baroque-styled churches.

The magnificent church was built overlooking Santa Maria in 1769 when you are on a hilltop. This huge Baroque edifice served as both a lookout and a religious center in the neighborhood.

The church’s interior is basic, but its surroundings have made it a famous tourist site. A belfry that served as a watchtower during the Spanish colonial period stands beside the entryway, representing Our Lady of Assumption upon a tree. The chapel is surrounded by open space, excellent for strolls and photographs!

It also harkens back to the four-century-long Spanish dominance that took place within the town. However, unlike those churches in the area, it is fortified with defensive walls.


9. The Mansion of Syquia

Photo Credits: Pinoy Adventurista

The Syquia Mansion gives a fine example of late Spanish Colonial Bahay na Bato architecture. The usual construction had a stone or bricked ground level and upper wood stories. No cement, no blocks, no bars. No blueprints. This mansion was created by hand with conventional building materials.

Its original site was built in 1830 by the Ang Co family and presented as dowry to Gregorio Syquia by Justo Angco in 1875. So did their descendants, who added to and changed the mansion to meet their increasing family.

The Syquia Mansion is now a museum showing the architecture and important family heirlooms and antiques from the Spanish colonial era in the 19th century Philippines. One of the oldest Bahay na Bato in Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was recognized by the government.


10. Museum of Crisologo


Photo Credits: Pinterest

This museum is a must-see if you wish to have a grasp of the political climate in the Philippines in the 1970s. The museum is tiny, but it contains a large collection of relics and antiques.

Floro Crisologo, according to history, was the lawmaker assassinated by an anonymous gunman inside St Paul Cathedral.

In his honor, his family turned their century-old family home into a mini-museum. Also, Floro Crisologo’s wife escaped an assassination attempt while pregnant.

Moreover, as you roam around, you may witness an old car and an ancient carriage still utilized as movie pieces.

Also, there is a book collection, news clippings about Crisologo’s death, and even the blood-splattered clothes that he wore at the time he was assassinated.


11. Candon Church

Photo Credits: Pinterest

Candon Church, also recognized as the St. John of Sahagun Church, was built in the Earthquake Baroque style, just like most churches built a hundred years ago in our country.

The four-story octagonal bell tower, which features alternating open and blind apertures, a railing, and is capped by a campanile, is what makes this Candon City tourist attraction so interesting. Candon Church is one of the go-to tourist attractions in Candon Ilocos Sur and should not be missed.


12. Vigan’s Mestizo River

Photo Credits: Jesse Alegre

At Vigan, cruising down the Mestizo River is a fantastic experience.

It lasts approximately 45 minutes. Meanwhile, it will be taking you the city’s history, beginning with its discovery and continuing with the Spanish occupation. On an added note, you can be culminating with its rise to become one of the most visited cities in the Philippines.

The brief tour promises to be a moment of relaxation while also providing an opportunity to learn more about life through the perspective of the Ilokanos. The yearly candle-floating event on the Mestizo River, during the Raniag Twilight Festival, highlights the river.


13. The Hidden Garden

Photo Credits: Bencito

Contrary to its name, Hidden Garden is not hidden. Indeed, it is located in the heart of Vigan City, and travelers never fail to visit it. Perhaps it is termed hidden because it is not visible from Katipunan Street.

Hidden Garden is a restaurant and cafe nestled in a tranquil environment surrounded by tropical plants and flowers, handcrafted wooden sculptures, and an abundance of clay pots.

The restaurant samples some local dishes or strolls through the garden, which features a bonsai area, an artificial cave, and a giant birdcage containing white cockatoos. Additionally, you can purchase plants and burnay jars, which are unglazed traditional Vigan pots.


14. Adventure Zone of Ilocos Sur

Photo Credits: Pinterest

Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone primarily caters to adrenaline junkies and adventure freaks. It is ideal for local and international tourists looking for different views from visiting museums and walking around the cobbled streets of nearby Vigan City, a 15-minute drive away.

You can enjoy the recreational activities with your families and friends in the kayak center. In addition to that, climbing and rappelling walls, giant swing, zorb balls, and a 400-meter-long zip line that crosses the Abra River can be interesting!


15. The Archbishop’s Palace


Photo Credits: la Familia

The Archbishop’s Palace is the oldest structure in the city (it took seven years to build). Its architectural elements, including movable capiz shell windows, cut-out ornamentation with floral themes, and a garden, make it worth visiting.

This Palace (together with the rest of Vigan, although not as much as most of Manila, for example) amazingly escaped the devastation caused by World War II. It is the only structure available of an 18th-century archbishop’s Palace still standing in the country.

In the present time, it is the official residence of the Archbishop of Nueva Segovia. An ecclesiastical court was housed in the structure during its early years. Also, it was taken over by Filipino rebels in 1896, who used it as a prison for Bishop Jose Hevia Campomanes, who died there in 1897.

In 1898, it was utilized as the headquarters of General Emilio Aguinaldo’s forces. After that, the building was utilized as a garrison by invading Americans, under the command of Lt. Col. James Parker, in 1899.

With its museum (Museo Nueva Segovia), the Palace houses a collection of precious religious treasures and relics from neighboring churches all across the Ilocos area.

Portraits of bishops from earlier centuries, life-size carved wood statues of saints and martyrs, and ecclesiastical costumes, ornaments, antiques, and documents are just a few of the treasures on display in the museum. On Maundy Tuesdays, the Cathedral still uses a silver altar of repose, made of silver. There is also a statue of Nuestra Senora de la Caridad made of ivory on display.


Final Words

As a region steeped in history, many places in Ilocos Sur also come with their unique backstories. Whether in the center of a historical city or near one of the province’s secret beaches, Ilocos Sur has accommodations to suit every sort of adventurer!

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