Best Historical Tourist Destinations in Cebu, Philippines - Monuments and Historical Landmarks

A markerIsland of Cebu -
Cebu City, Philippines
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Cebu is one of the many islands of the Philippines. If you look at a map of the country, you'd find this long narrow island smack in the middle of the archipelago. Majority of its land area and population is in a long narrow major island, surrounded by more than 100 smaller islands, most notable of which are the Mactan, Olango, Camotes, Batayan and Malapascua islands.

Even though the country's capital is Manila in NCR, Cebu is considered to be one of the most industrialized and developed province in the Philippines. Cebu City, the provincial capital, boasts numerous local and international businesses. Its busy port receives millions of tourists, investors and trade per year, making it one of the most important cities in the Visayas region. It is not surprising then when it was hailed as the "The Queen City of the South".

Cebu is not only famous for its economic value. The province is also rich in history, culture and natural resources. Anyone visiting the country must not miss out on the beautiful and scenic spots the island has to offer. Below are the links to these destinations, depending on what interests you most:

Lapu-Lapu Monument

a 20-meter bronze statue of Lapu-Lapu, equipped with his "kampilan" (sword) and "kalasag" (shield)
a 20-meter bronze statue of Lapu-Lapu, equipped with his "kampilan" (sword) and "kalasag" (shield) | Source

Any young Filipino can narrate to you the story of the country's very first national hero. Then again, you could probably read it for yourself in any Philippine History textbook. Almost three years after he departed from the port of Seville, Andalusia in an expedition to circumnavigate the globe, Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines. He was successful in establishing diplomatic ties with Rajah Humabon of Cebu, perfoming the first baptism in the country. He made plans to spread Christianity to the nearby island of Mactan. But the island's chieftain, Datu Lapu-Lapu, did not accept his proposal. On April 27, 1521, Magellan sailed to Mactan with a small attack force. The natives, equipped with their bamboo spears and bolos , gained home-court advantage on the shallow rocky shore that was the battlefield. Magellan was mortally wounded, and Lapu-lapu was hailed to be the first Filipino to fight against foreign sovereignty.

Manny Pacquiao performing as Lapu-Lapu, in the Kadaugan sa Mactan Festival 2008
Manny Pacquiao performing as Lapu-Lapu, in the Kadaugan sa Mactan Festival 2008 | Source

This historic battle is reenacted annually during the Kadaugan sa Mactan Festival. In this week-long celebration, the local government stages a play depicting the fight between the natives and the Spaniards at the exact shore where the battle was fought, a few meters behind the monument. Famous celebrities take the roles of Lapu-lapu and Magellan. The event is a must-see for any tourist who visits Cebu in the month of April.

Magellan's Marker
Magellan's Marker | Source

In front of Lapu-Lapu monument, right across the street, is the lesser known Magellan's Marker, which stood on the exact spot where Ferdinand Magellan supposedly died.

Magellan's Cross

Magellan's Cross
Magellan's Cross | Source

Majority of the Philippines' population are Christians. The country's religious history can be traced back to Zugbu (currently called Cebu). Ferdinand Magellan, after landing on the island and establishing peace with the natives, planted the first seeds of Christianity. The first Catholic Mass was celebrated here on April 14, 1512, where Rajah Humabon and Queen Juana and about 400 followers, were baptized by Fr. Pedro Valderema. At present, what remains of the original cross erected by Magellan, is encased in a hollow tindalo wood and was placed inside a kiosk to further safeguard it from people who believe chips off the cross have miraculous powers.

the original cross planted by Ferdinand Magellan
the original cross planted by Ferdinand Magellan | Source

The scenes painted on the roof of the kiosk containing Magellan's cross shows the arrival of Magellan in Cebu, the first mass and baptism, and his planting of the original cross on the shore.

Fort San Pedro

Fort San Pedro entrance
Fort San Pedro entrance | Source

Almost 44 years after Ferdinand Magellan died and surviving members of his crew left the Philippines, Miguel Lopez De Legazpi arrived in the shores of Cebu. They built Fort San Pedro to repel Muslim raiders. Throughout the country's history it has served in a myriad of purposes: the hub of Spanish settlement, the American Warwick Barracks, a school for local Cebuanos, fortification for Japanese soldiers during World War II, local army camp during the battle for liberation. In recent times it housed the Cebu City Zoo, the offices of Department of Tourism and the Philippine Tourism Authority. At present, it is under the PTA and houses the National Museum that showcases the San Diego shipwreck and Fort San Pedro diggings.

Fort San Pedro's facade, a golden glow in the afternoon sun
Fort San Pedro's facade, a golden glow in the afternoon sun | Source

Fort San Pedro is the smallest and oldest tri-bastion fort in the country, sporting an inner area of 2,025 sq. meters and ancient brick walls 20 feet high and 8 feet thick. The tower stands approximately 30 feet high from ground level.

a cannon inside the fort
a cannon inside the fort | Source


There is a park around and inside the fort, and you can look over at the nearby pier and watch the incoming ships in the same way the fort's occupants did over the centuries. The Fort San Pedro Museum contains numerous artifacts like Ming porcelain, coins, lockets, sword fragments, cannons, and helmets.

Basilica Minor Del Santo Niño

altar inside the Basilica
altar inside the Basilica | Source

The church was built by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Fr. Andres Urdaneta on the site where the image of Santo Niño, believed to have been left by Ferdinand Magellan, was found in 1565. Considered as the oldest religious relic in the Philippines, the Image of Santo Niño de Cebu was given by Magellan to Queen Juana during the first baptism on April 14, 1521. Today, the image is enshrined at the Basilica del Santo Niño.

Basilica Minor del Sto. Nio
Basilica Minor del Sto. Nio | Source

The basilica's facade and interiors boast impressive architecture and design, reminiscent of the old Spanish times. Religion is an integral component of the country's identity. Every day, many devotees flock to the church to offer their prayers.

thousands of people in front of the Basilica during the Sinulog festival
thousands of people in front of the Basilica during the Sinulog festival | Source

In the month of January, the square in front of the basilica, as well as the streets of the metropolitan, is jam-packed with devotees, street-merchants and tourists for the annual grand celebration of the Sinulog festival. As the Filipino idiom 'di mahulugang karayom goes, a needle can't even drop to the ground while more than 1.5 million people go to streets to partake in the country's most famous festival.

Heritage of Cebu Monument

front of the monument at daytime
front of the monument at daytime | Source

Located in the original Plaza Parain, it showcases the significant and symbolic events in the history of Cebu from the time of Rajah Humabon to the recent beatification of Cebuano martyr Pedro Calunsod.

side of the monument at night
side of the monument at night | Source

The monumental sculptural tableau is the work of national artist Edgardo Castrillo. Construction began on July 1997 and it was inaugurated on Dec. 8, 2000.

Provided an all-expense paid vacation package, which of the following historical location in Cebu, Philippines would you want to visit?

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If you do get the chance to visit the Philippines, consider putting Cebu and her beautiful locations on your destinations list. I highly suggest that you visit the following above places. Below are even more historical scenes that may interest you.

Taoist Temple

The temple provides a breath-taking view of the whole City Area and beyond. There are some 81 steps representing the 81 chapters of the Taoism scriptures. On reaching the top you can light joss sticks and have your fortune read.
The temple provides a breath-taking view of the whole City Area and beyond. There are some 81 steps representing the 81 chapters of the Taoism scriptures. On reaching the top you can light joss sticks and have your fortune read. | Source

Capitol Building

This majestic and imposing vintage structure serves as the seat of the Provincial government. Some claim that it's a replica of the United States' White House.
This majestic and imposing vintage structure serves as the seat of the Provincial government. Some claim that it's a replica of the United States' White House. | Source

University of San Carlos

The University of San Carlos, formerly called Colegio de San lldefonso, is the oldest school in the Philippines, established by the Jesuits in 1565.
The University of San Carlos, formerly called Colegio de San lldefonso, is the oldest school in the Philippines, established by the Jesuits in 1565. | Source

Bantayan sa Hari

Bantayan sa Hari is located under the Mandaue-Opon Bridge. This Spanish colonial watchtower gave Mandaue resident a vantage view of the sea and marauding pirates.
Bantayan sa Hari is located under the Mandaue-Opon Bridge. This Spanish colonial watchtower gave Mandaue resident a vantage view of the sea and marauding pirates. | Source

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Comments 15 comments

Gwinnett 5 years ago

really great fidel!!! I'm suddenly becoming proud of this place...


michelle 5 years ago

made me proud to be cebuana! :)


roel 5 years ago

Choi kaau si Pakyaw dah! Go Cebu!


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

Mabuhay! Welcome to Hubpages! This is an informative hub.I only have been to a few places in Cebu like the Shrine of Santo Nino. Good to know that there are still some beautiful places I should visit. Thanks for sharing.


teacherfidel profile image

teacherfidel 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@Gwinnet, michelle and roel, thanks for reading guys. I'm pretty sure you've been to most, if not all, of these places, what with us living in Cebu. It is a beautiful place, isn't it?


teacherfidel profile image

teacherfidel 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@Thelma Alberts, thanks for reading the hub. I hope it made you consider visiting Cebu in our next vacation here in the Philippines. I wonder, how often do you get to visit our country?


shiela 5 years ago

Great work fidel, this hub made US all feel proud not only as a Filipino but also a cebuana... :D


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

Your welcome. I can´t visit our country as often as I want to because it´s so expensive. But I´ll be there this christmas and I´m planning to visit Cebu at that time as well. By the way, thanks for your follow. Happy Fathers Day! Today is fathers day in Germany.


SUSANJK profile image

SUSANJK 5 years ago from Florida

Gorgeous places, I will add to my wish list


teacherfidel profile image

teacherfidel 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@Thelma, it's good to hear that you still get the chance to visit. And thanks for the greeting (though I'm not a father, yet ^^).


teacherfidel profile image

teacherfidel 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@SUSANJK, thanks for reading the hub! And yes, the historical places are great, but wait until I publish the natural scenes, the beaches and waterfalls and caves. Truly spectacular!


jeantte 5 years ago

amazing, chunks! :)


thesailor profile image

thesailor 5 years ago from Seven Seas

Awsome places in Cebu! Thanks for sharing, teacherfidel!


teacherfidel profile image

teacherfidel 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

thanks for reading, thesailor! ^^


may143... 4 years ago

Cebu is one of the best place i've ever seen!

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