One of the major religious landmark and tourist destinations in Ilocos Sur is the St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is popularly known as Vigan Cathedral, located in front of Plaza Salcedo and beside Plaza Burgoz.
St Paul Metropolitan Cathedral is an earthquake Baroque-styled church build in 1574 on the order of Spaniard Juan De Salcedo, the founder of Villa Fernandina ( now Vigan). The Cathedral was damaged by the earthquake in 1619 and 1627 but another one was built here in 1641. The present baroque-style church was built in 18th century. The original chapel was made of wood and thatch and it features Neo-Gothic and pseudo Romanesque motifs. The baroque-styled church has thick buttresses to support it through earthquakes and typhoons.
The Bell Tower was built 15 meters away from the Church. It is about 25 meters high and it is surmounted by a large bronze weathercock that is said to symbolize St. Peter. It was said to be built separately so that in any event of earthquake it would not topple into the church. The belfry design said to have a Chinese Feng Shui influences. The St. Paul Metroplitan Cathedral has twelve altars with hammered-silver panels, three naves and a choir loft. The tombstone of the great Ilocano poet Leona Florentino is also display inside the Cathedral.
Facing the Cathedral, you can see the statue of St Paul in the main opening. There are also carvings of Fu Dogs or Lion dogs by the outermost doors. In the alcove are scenes of Saint Paul’s conversion.