The city is unique in the Philippines because it is one of many extensive surviving Philippine historic cities, dating back to the 16th century.

Vigan was a coastal trading post long before the Spaniards arrived; Chinese traders sailing from the South China Sea came to Isla de Vigan (Island of Vigan) via the Mestizo River that surrounded it. 276, Blair and Robertson) two letters from Governor-General Guido de Lavezaris to King Philip II of Spain mention: "It seemed best to send Captain Juan de Salcedo with 70 or 80 soldiers to explore the coast of Los Ilocanos on the shores of the river called Bigan." The Spaniards led by Salcedo marched north from Manila on May 20, 1572. Thus, after the successful expedition and the exploration of the North, Juan de Salcedo founded "Villa Fernandina de Vigan" in honor of King Philip II’s son, Prince Ferdinand, who died at the age of four.

The most commonly known source of the city's name is from the Biga'a plant, which once grew abundantly along the banks of the Mestizo River, from which captain Juan de Salcedo derived the city's name (after a misunderstanding with the locals, thinking he was asking the name of the plants).

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According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 53,879 people.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in that it is one of the few Hispanic towns left in the Philippines where its structures have remained intact, and is well known for its cobblestone streets and a unique architecture that fuses Philippine and Oriental building designs and construction, with colonial European architecture.

Between 16, Vigan was divided into 21 Cabezas de Barrio (Town Mayors) as mentioned in the Libro de Casamiento (Book of Marriage); from the records of the parish house of Vigan found in its archives. and Philippine Commonwealth ground troops, aided by Ilocano resistance fighters, defeated the Japanese Imperial forces and liberated Vigan.

Separated from the indigenous population, the Chinese migrants were residents in a neighbourhood called El Pariancillo, los Sangleyes del parian (The Sangleyes of the Parian); and the Spanish settlers were residents in a town called Los Españoles de la Villa (The Town Spaniards). At the start of World War II, Vigan was one of the first places in the Philippines invaded by Japan on 10 December 1941. In 1999, Vigan was listed by UNESCO as the best preserved example of Spanish colonial towns in Asia.

Governor General Gómez Pérez Dasmariñas, in his account of encomienda dated in Manila on May 31, 1591, states: "The town of Vigan called Villa Fernandina consisted of Spanish settlers; a priest; a Justice Alcalde Mayor (Governor); and a Deputy.

The King collects 800 tributes (equivalent to 3,200 subjects)." During this period, Vigan was composed of 19 barrios (districts).In 1574, Salcedo returned to the capital of his encomienda (trusteeship), Vigan, bringing with him his soldiers and some Augustinian missionaries to pioneer the evangelization of the Ilocos region.He established a Spanish city for the purpose of controlling the neighboring country.Vigan's Chinese heritage is still evident from the numerous elite Chinese creole families who come from the area, many of whom adopted Hispanic family names.Others, such as the Syquia family, have retained Chinese-derived surnames, though most, if not all, of the Christian Chinese creole families fully Hispanicised themselves culturally.New7Wonders Foundation president and founding member Bernard Weber led a ceremony held at St.