Cebu is the oldest city located in the Philippines that was once a busy fishing village back in the 1500s. Ferdinand Magellan, the famous Portuguese explorer, visited Cebu and spread Christianity through the land to his wife and local natives.
If this history interests you, book your flight to Cebu via Cathay Pacific with flights to Cebu for less than $1,500 depending on your starting region. To get ready for your upcoming trip to Cebu, let’s take a look at 7 historical destinations to explore in Cebu.
1. Magellan’s Cross
Because of Ferdinand Magellan’s Christian influence on Philippine natives, Magellan’s Cross surfaced in 1521 as a famous monument in Cebu that honors this event. It is symbolic of the strong Roman Catholic faith in Cebu and throughout the Philippines. This is why Cebu is now the main hub of Christianity in the Philippines.
In 1835, Magellan’s Cross was placed into a cross-case made of tindalo wood to protect it from those that took away pieces of it because of their belief that the cross had the power of miracles.
Fast forward to the present day, Magellan’s Cross earned the name of 2021 Jubilee Cross during the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines. Participants celebrated the 500th anniversary of Magellan’s introduction of Christianity to the Philippines.
Address: 7WV2+CQG, P. Burgos Street, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines
2. Museo de Sugbo
Museo de Sugbo is known in English as the Cebu Provincial Museum. Located only a few blocks from Cebu’s Plaza Independencia, the museum is stationed inside the building previously known as Carcel de Cebu, otherwise known as the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center. This museum inside of a former jail that operated as such for more than 140 years adds to the creepy yet alluring appeal of a tourist attraction.
Museo de Sugbo is now known as a national historic landmark. It transformed into a museum in 2004 when the jail moved to a larger location. The first four galleries were installed in the museum for locals and tourists to enjoy in 2008.
Address: 731 M. J. Cuenco Ave, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Philippines
3. Basilica Minore de San Pedro Bautista
Otherwise known as the San Francisco del Monte Church, this parish church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines originating in 1590. Padre Pedro Bautista or Peter Baptist is a Spanish missionary hailing from Avila, Spain. He came to Cebu City and founded the church during his lifetime before he was one of the 26 Christians that suffered a deadly fate by martyring in 1597 in Japan.
There are regular parish services in the morning and evening throughout the week. As of July 2022, church officials updated their times and availability of services. For example, parish services are held at 6 am and 6 pm on Mondays through Saturdays while Sundays include three services at 6 am, 8 am, and 10 am respectively. There are evening services for adults at 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm on Sundays and 3:30 pm for the youth mass.
Address: 69 San Pedro Bautista, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, 1104 Metro Manila, Philippines
4. Casa Gorordo Museum
Casa Gorordo Museum originated in the 1850s and was the home of Juan Gorordo. Come to learn about the Parian culture from long ago in immersive exhibits. Spanish higher-ups formed the church for Chinese immigrants as they assimilated into Cebu City.
Located in the Perian District, the museum gives guests guided tours with amenities including a cafe and a gift shop. Grab a bite to eat before or after your guided tour and visit the gift shop to purchase a souvenir to commemorate your visit to the museum.
The museum became a designation National Historical Landmark back in 1991 when the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. The organization was known as the National Historical Institute at the time when Casa Gorordo Museum was named a historical landmark.
This museum’s architecture combines Chinese and Spanish influences, making it a very distinctive building compared to other properties throughout Cebu. If you cannot get to the museum, you can visit the virtual experience on their official website. One online exhibit features Maria Cacao.
Address: 35 Eduardo Aboitiz St, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Philippines
5. Cebu Heritage Monument
Take a walk through key events in Cebu City’s history by visiting the Cebu Heritage Monument. The sculptures are made of various materials such as brass, concrete, and even bronze. Eduardo Castillo is the artist behind the many monuments in this important historical location in the Parian District.
There are various historical events honored at the Cebu Heritage Monument. Rajah Humadon’s baptism is highlighted as well as the Battle of Mactan that pitted Magellan and Lapu-Lapu against one another.
Late historical figures are honored via the monument as well including the Blessed Pedro Calungsod and former President Sergio Osmena Sr. Calungsod was a Catholic Filipino-Visayan missionary alongside Jesuit missionary Diego Lewis to complete missionary work. They both died of persecution in 1672.
Address: 7WX3+GCP, Sikatuna St, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines
6. Mactan Shrine
Lapu-Lapu was the datu, or the ruler, of the Mactan tribe that fought against Ferdinand Magellan in the Battle of Mactan. The Mactan Shrine, otherwise known as the Liberty Shrine, commemorates this event with Lapu-Lapu at the center of attention. There is also a monument that commemorates Ferdinand Magellan in the same area.
Address: Mactan Shrine, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines
7. Fuerte de San Pedro
Otherwise known as Fort San Pedro, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who is the first Filipino Governor-General, oversaw this historic landmark’s construction when he was the leader of the Spaniards. It is now stationed near the modern-day Plaza Independencia which is near the main pier of Cebu.
The fort originally opened in 1565 and was originally wooden. During the 17th century, locals took down the original wooden structure and built it with the same look but as a stone structure so that Muslim raiders would be discouraged from attacking.
Address: 7WR4+X7J, A. Pigafetta Street, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Philippines
Final Thoughts on Cebu’s Historical Destinations
Flights to Cebu are worth it to learn the historical background of the city. You will be transported back to the original events of missionaries, explorers, and historical leaders. Book your Cebu City adventure with Cathay Pacific today!