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CEBU – known for luxurious high-class hotels, resorts, and spas, and is the central hub where the Visayas region revolves. It is also known for the spectacular diving spots. Sites like Malapascua and Moalboal, which is located in the remote areas of the province will surely surprise you. But this isn’t just what Cebu can offer. Integrated with culture and people, the province is also popular for the historical sites. Most events that played an important role in the country’s current state happened here. So, here are some of the sites of the Historical Cebu that you must visit!

Basilica del Santo Niño

In the historic old town of Cebu City stands one of the most important god-houses. It is said to be the first and oldest church in the Philippines, the Basilica del Sto. Niño. In this sanctuary shelters the holy image of the child Jesus. It was discovered by the Juan de Camuz and presented it to Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in the year 1565.

This statue played an important role in the conquest and Christianization of the Philippines. It is reflected every year in the Sinulog Festival, which is already well-known beyond the national borders.

basilica del santo nino, cebu, visayas, philippines

Basilica del Santo Nino Cathedral

The Basilica del Sto. Niño is visited by both locals and many foreign travelers from all over the world. On the 17th century, the first church was built on the site where the wooden statue of Sto. Niño was found. However, the church and also the following wooden statue was burned down. The Basilica was rebuilt in 1739 was the basilica made of natural stone as it is still admirable today.

basilica del santo nino, cebu, visayas, philippines

A devotee who is saying his prayers while lighting a candle offering.

The breathtaking interior design gives more impact to devotees and travelers alike. From the statues to the garden that is situated inside the Basilica, to the religious paintings at the ceiling, to one of the most well-designed altars.

Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, Cebu, Philippines

The pilgrimage center front of the church where they hold masses too.

There is also a pilgrimage center, which was built in 1990 facing directly opposite to the basilica’s altar. It can accommodate almost more than 3500 devotees at festive occasions. Just behind the cellars and walls, there is an interesting museum with many relics. It bears witness to the origins of the basilica. Many jewels have been collected which were left to the church for the most varied reasons of the devotees.

But sadly, due to the earthquake which happened in the year 2013, the Basilica was highly damaged. The bell tower was completely ruined and also some of the other parts of the church were damaged too. Luckily, the head priest and the devotees, the Basilica was repaired and made even more impressive than before. Until this day, the Basilica still stands as a center of praise and faith for many Cebuano devotees.

Magellan’s Cross

In 1521, the Portuguese conqueror Ferdinand Magellan commissioned the Spanish Crown to erect a cross in his conquest. The remnants later had to be protected from the devotees. Because some of them believed that a cross is a miraculous object and want to sell it as souvenir items. Now, the original cross is encased inside a Tindalo wood in 1835 for the mere purpose of protecting it.

Magellan's Cross, Cebu, Philippines

The chapel where the Magellan’s Cross is sheltered

The cross symbolizes the Roman Catholicism that emerged in the country when Magellan and his companion successfully landed. They also baptized some of the native Filipinos back in the days. The chapel that is located in the entrance area of the basilica on Magallanes street in Cebu City.

magellan's cross, cebu, visayas, philippines

Inside of the chapel

Inside the chapel, devotees are allowed to offer candles and money to express their faith. There is also a painting on the ceiling that summarizes the events and happenings that arose in the past.

The Heritage of Cebu Monument

Cebu Heritage Monument, Cebu, Philippines

This monument is a representation of sculptures portraying the significant and symbolic events in Cebu history. It is only a walking distance from the Basilica del Santo Nino. It showcases the talent of local artists and how they are very subjective in their local or provincial background. The monument shows the events of the past. From the time of Magellan and Rajah Humabon’s connection to the current beatification of the second Filipino saint namely St. Pedro Calungsod.

July 1997, the local artist Eduardo Catrillo began the construction of the monument and was finished in December 2000. Mostly, the local artist decided to pick some of the most significant events and contributions of the Cebuano History; mainly Basilica del Santo Niño, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the Saint John the Baptist Church, the Magellan’s Cross, and a Spanish Galleon.

Fort San-Pedro

If it is about history, this oldest triangular bastion of the country must not be missed out. This military defense structure was constructed under the command of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in the year 1565. At the end of 19th century, the fort was attacked and taken by the Filipino Revolutionaries who used it as their fortress.

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Fort San Pedro signage

The Fort had a lot of functions before becoming a tourist destination. First, it served as an army garrison, a rebel stronghold, a prison camp, a city zoo to becoming today’s tourist destination. The interior of the fort is now enhanced to having gardens and museums that served as a preserving tool to the great history of the province.

fort san pedro, cebu, visayas, philippines

Entrance to the fort.

Mactan Shrine or The Lapu-Lapu Shrine

The small island Mactan Island, where the second largest airport of the Philippines is located (Mactan-Cebu International Airport) is situated opposite the provincial capital of Cebu City.

Mactan Shrine, Mactan, Cebu, Philippines

The statue of the mighty Lapu-Lapu

The conqueror and circumnavigator Ferdinand Magellan lost his life in his attempt to conquer the region around today’s Cebu Island in 1521. He met a tough adversary named Lapu-Lapu, the chief of the Mactan Island inhabitants. It was not only the impassable terrain but also the personality and the strength of this tribal leader that Magellan came to an end here.

Lapu-Lapu is said to be a Grand Master of ancient Filipino fighting techniques, such as the Pangamut, which later developed the fighting techniques of Kali, Arnis, and Eskrima. Today, these techniques are again enjoying greater popularity in the Philippines. He himself enjoyed the care of various instructors, who trained him in the disciplines of strength and endurance and in dealing with a stick, knife, spear, and fist.

Lapu-Lapu was supposed to be better known, indeed actually famous, as the first national hero of the Philippines. The fact that he was almost forgotten by historiography probably has several reasons. On the one hand, the island of Mactan was almost meaningless at the time of the conquest because of the circumstances already described, both economically and politically.

It took another 44 years for Spaniards to submit this region of the Philippines.

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

Within walking distance of the Sto. Niño Basilican is the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, a Greek colonial-style church. This church was raised to an archdiocese in 1933. The foundation was laid in 1689. The final completion did not take place until 2009 after many construction interruptions and massive destruction in the Second World War.

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

Front view of the Cathedral

The Christianization of the Philippines has led to a high degree of dissemination of the Catholic faith. Nevertheless, intertwines with pre-Christian traditions are often unmistakable. A good sign of this is, among other things, that the Filipino tends to believe in ghosts and spirits.

Taoist Temple

The local people of Cebu is an integration of many religion. Though most people here are Catholic due to the Spanish Colonization, there are still people who were influenced by the Chinese culture and religion.

Taoist Temple, Cebu, Philippines

View of the famous Taoist Temple in Cebu

With the refreshing ambiance, situated in the mountainous area of Cebu, this temple is also often visited by both locals and foreigners alike. Opened in 1972, this temple symbolizes that there is also Chinese culture that is existing in the province. The architectural design includes a lot of dragon statues which in Taoism symbolizes the essence of the spiritual half of the cosmos. In this temple, non-worshippers witness a bit of what the religion’s practices and other stuff.

Taoist Temple, Cebu, Philippines

The dragons at one of the roofs of the Taoist Temple

Yap Sandiego Ancestral House

Of course, if one is going on a historical sightseeing tour in Cebu, they should not miss this one. Yap Sandiego Ancestral House is said to be one of the oldest houses in the country. It is located in the Parian District which is only a walking distance from Basilica del Santo Nino and Cebu Heritage Monument. It was originally owned by a Chinese Merchant named Don Juan Yap and his wife Doña Maria Florido who gave birth to their three children namely; Maria, Eleuterio, and Consolacion Yap.

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In front of Yap Ancestral House with our guests.

In 2008, the house was turned to Maria’s great great grandson, Val. He was the one who collected the relics and opened the museum. Now, Val is a renowned art collector and photographer. Even though there are some people who would like to buy some items from the museum, he still refuses them thinking that this is the only thing he could do to preserve his family’s relics and culture.

In summary, Cebu is not just your ordinary travel destination. There’s a variety of choices when you travel in Cebu. And if you’re a culture enthusiast, you shouldn’t really miss out this one.

Here’s a video to motivate you more to visit Cebu!

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