Saturday, August 23, 2014

An Early Morning Stroll at Historic Calle Crisologo

The sound of church bells and an occasional rooster crowing signals the start of a sunny Sunday morning, and one by one, the stores lining the historic Calle Crisologo open up for the day's business.The moment you step on the famed cobblestone street of Calle Crisologo, you are transported back in time, back to 18th century Vigan.  

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vigan's historic district offers a unique experience and a glimpse of 18th century life during Spanish colonial times. 

And the best place to stay while on your Vigan expedition is at the elegant Hotel Luna, the country's first museum hotel. Conveniently located at the heart of Vigan's historic heritage district, simply walk around the corner and you're right at the center of Calle Crisologo.

After a leisurely early morning buffet breakfast at Hotel Luna's Comedor (for more on Hotel Luna, check out my previous post here at, it was time for a stroll on the cobblestone street of Calle Crisologo, and a good way to work off the calories.    

Lining the street are Vigan's famous Spanish era ancestral homes, built with the familiar stone and brick facade with large arched doorways. Home to meztizo clans who prospered with the bustling Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, the preserved homes have aged gracefully over the centuries. Trading in gold, tobacco, Iloco abel cloth, and other commodities, the galleon trade flourished from 1565 to 1815, resulting in the emergence of traders and meztizo clans whose wealth created the iconic ancestral stone mansions.   

The massive wooden arched doorways were designed to accommodate the entrance and exit of calesas, or horse-drawn buggies, the popular mode of transportation at the time. And the wealthiest families would have several ornately designed calesas at their disposal to navigate the busy streets of bustling Vigan. Today, you can rent a calesa for only P 150 per hour for a short tour around the historic district to complete your experience.

The rhythmic sound of horse-drawn calesas on the cobblestone street add to the nostalgic feel, as more visitors arrive. And Calle Crisologo is suddenly alive and busy.

Store owners quickly set up their displays and greet visitors... more merchandise is arranged to attract potential customers. The stillness of the early morning just moments ago is replaced by the bustling sound of activity.

And Calle Crisologo is now open for business. 

All around, remnants of Spanish colonization remain strong to this day, and the link with Spain, through a shared history and culture, language and religion, can still be seen at historic Vigan. The occasional scooter that whizzes by brings you back...

Take a calesa ride, or go further down on foot. And take your time...

...and stop for a few moments, take a closer look at the small things often overlooked...

...and the finer details of the old walls.

Like a portal back in time, the massive walls and imposing gates must have been intimidating to the common folk, and I think it still is. The district clearly delineates along class lines, with stone structures that have withstood the test of time.

And as you go deeper down the street, the experience becomes all the more real when you touch the ancient walls. And you silently wonder, if these walls could talk...

In the late afternoon, most of the visitors have returned back to their hotels and inns, and once again, I have the street all to myself.

Dusk drapes the district in a warm, muted glow as the lamps are lit. And Calle Crisologo takes on a whole different character in the shifting light.  

And as the afternoon light slowly fades, the famed and centuries-old cobblestone street is washed with muted colors. You'll need a full day or two to fully experience the old world charm of Calle Crisologo, so make it a point to spend a night at historic Vigan. And while in Vigan, make it Hotel Luna to complete your experience.

Hotel Luna is located at V. De Los Reyes corner General Luna Street, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur or call +632-584-4945 for inquiries and reservations. You may also contact the Manila Sales Office located at 26 Tomas Morato Extension, Brgy. South Triangle, Quezon City or call +632-373-3333 local 201-204 or email

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