Cebu City, Cebu: Six Significant Landmarks of the Southern Queen City
Nearly five centuries has passed since Portuguese conquistadores Ferdinand Magellan first set foot on Philippine shores. The “rediscovery” was followed by the expedition of Miguel López de Legazpi which led to further explorations of the archipelago beginning with the first Spanish settlement in Cebu. Today, remnants of rich and colorful past still exist and has become an attraction to both local and international visitors. Here are some places I visited you might find interesting. Without further introductions, I give you land marks of the Cebu City, the “Queen City of the South”.
Entrance to Fort San Pedro.
1. Fuerza de San Pedro (A. Pigafetta St, Dakbayan sa Sugbu)
The unique triangular bastion of Fort San Pedro, named after Legazpi’s flagship, served as the first fortified encampment of Spanish explorers which makes this military structure the oldest in the country. Eight-foot thick walls made from coral stones and 14 cannons withstood and warded off attacks by Moro raiders during the Spanish regime. Filipino revolutionaries captured the fort and used it as stronghold. The Americans used the stronghold as barracks when they occupied Cebu. During World War II, Fort San Pedro was utilized as a hospital.
Bastion of Fort San Pedro damaged by Bohol earthquake.
Fort San Pedro’s museum houses artifacts and paintings such as this one portraying Juana (Humamai’s Christian name after being baptized)
This 18th century fortress has played numerous crucial roles in Philippine history, good thing the demolition plan in 1957 did not push through. Today, Fuerza de San Pedro is one of Cebu City’s national landmarks which reminds Cebuanos of the wonderful past.
Magellan’s Cross was supported by a wooden scaffolding while restoration efforts are going on.
The Magellan’s Cross chapel is also undergoing restoration.
2. Magellan’s Cross (Santo Niño, Cebu City)
Ferdinand Magellan arrived in Cebu bearing a 10-foot tall wooden cross which was planted by the Portuguese explorer on Philippine soil about 500 years ago. Beside Basilica Minore del Santo Niño lies a hexagonal chapel which shelters Magellan’s Cross encased in tindalo wood. Some believed the original cross is still inside while others think it’s a replica, nevertheless, Magellan’s Cross signifies the arrival of Christianity, the religion embraced by majority of Filipinos today.
A part of the belfry fell in front of Basilica Minore del Santo Nino’s entrance.
3. Basilica Minore del Santo Niño (Osmeña Boulevard,Cebu City)
A statue of Santo Niño was given to the wife of Cebu’s local chieftain Rajah Humabon by Ferdinand Magellan when the indigenous people of Cebu were converted to Christians. Forty years later, Governor-General Miguel López de Legazpi found the statue in a local village he overthrew. This village is the same site where Basilica Minore del Santo Niño‘s foundations first stood. In a span of 5 centuries, the church has suffered damages from fire, twice, and the 2013 devastating Bohol earthquake. Though the church currently undergoes reconstruction and restoration, devotees continue to visit the church, attend mass, and pray to the Holy Child.
Huge chunks of debris still on Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral grounds.
4. Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral (Mabini Street, Cebu City)
Two blocks from Basilica Minore del Santo Nino is the equally magnificent Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. Bombings during the World War II caused damages to the Spanish architecture church leaving only the belfry, the thick walls, and it’s facade in tact. Similar to its neighboring church, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral also suffered damages during the 2013 Bohol earthquake.
Soon to open – Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum.
5. Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum (Gotiaoco Building, M. C. Briones St, Dakbayan sa Sugbu)
Do you know what building in Cebu first utilized an elevator? It’s the neo-classical Gotiaoco Building which was built in 1914 by a Chinese business tycoon named Pedro Gotiaoco. The former commercial building will now be converted into a museum which will showcase Chinese-Cebuano heritage.
The abandoned Compania Maritima building.
6. Compania Maritima Building (Compania Maritima Bldg, Cebu South Coastal Rd Dakbayan sa Sugbu)
Shamrock Hotel was ravaged by World War II’s onslaught which left only the main structure in one piece. After the war, the building was renovated as the head office of Compania Maritima, the biggest shipping company in Cebu, until the company abandoned the building due to bankruptcy. Disputes over ownership is currently under debate but to whose hands may it fall, I hope they would retain the beauty of this abandoned building. This is not among the famous landmarks of Cebu City but I really find Compania Maritima’s structure one of the most interesting historical structures in Metro Cebu.
Behind the Cebu Veteran Memorial monument in Plaza Independencia is the official residence of the President in Visayas, called Malacañang sa Sugbu. It was inagurated in 1910
These structures are testimonies to centuries of Cebu City’s fascinating history from rediscovery as it progresses into a highly-urbanized city. These historical edifices help us understand our past wherein we can build new foundations for the development of a better society. Though most buildings currently face challenges due to damages brought upon the disastrous earthquake, the restoration efforts of dedicated agencies will definitely bring back life to these man-made wonders.
Fast facts that may help you in your trip:
1. These destinations are perfect for a walking tour since they’re adjacent to each other. Start by taking a jeep from SM (Jeepney number – 12i) then get off at Plaza Independencia, that’s where Fort San Pedro is.
2. Only a few meters from Plaza Independencia is the office of Department of Tourism, they could hand you out tourism maps for free, and guide you in your walking tour. Thank you DOT-Cebu City.
3. Entrance to Fort San Pedro costs P30.00 only. I would advise to take the guided tour, it’s free.
4. Aside from Fort San Pedro, everything else is free. However, Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum has yet to open. But you could visit the building. It’s really nice.
5. I took the advise of travel blogger Estan Cabigas of Langyaw on cheap hotels in Cebu City. I stayed at Sugbutel, they have this capsule type beds which cost only P300.00 – P350.00 per person. It’s really affordable, perfect for budget travellers. Thank you, boss Estan.
6. Sugbutel is located at Don Alfredo D. Gothong Centre, S. Osmena Blvd. cor. Road East North Reclamation Area Cebu City 6000. Contact them via landline +63 (32) 232.8888 or mobile +63 (917) 629.9961
6. More destinations in Cebu.
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9. Happy travels.
Sugbutel’s capsule type beds.