Magellan's Cross: Cebu City's Iconic Landmark

Perhaps the most recognizable landmark of Cebu City is the kiosk or chapel that houses the Magellan's Cross. This Cebu City tourist attraction is located at Plaza Sugbu on Magallanes Street right in between the Cebu City Hall and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. A common site at the area are old ladies selling colored candles and offering to pray for passersby in exchange for a fee. The prayer is done through the original Sinulog ritual dance.

The Magellan's Cross as a Cebu City Icon

The Magellan's Cross chapel or kiosk is immortalized as a symbol of Cebu City as it is the centerpiece of the Cebu City coat of arms, official seal, or official logo.

Magellan's Cross Cebu City Central Visayas Philippines
Official Seal of the City of Cebu

Historical Significance of the Magellan's Cross

The original cross planted by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan on the very site of the current day Magellan's Cross kiosk is said to be encased in a wooden cross made of tindalo wood, a tree that is usually found along the coasts of Northern Luzon to Palawan and Mindanao. The decision to encase the original cross was to prevent people from chipping away parts of the cross as many believed it possesses miraculous powers while some just wanted a souvenir. Many believe however that the original cross was destroyed upon the death of Magellan and that the encased cross was only a replica made by the Spanish authorities upon successful colonization of the Philippines.

Magellan's Cross Cebu City Central Visayas Philippines
Magellan's Cross in Cebu City, Philippines

Magellan supposedly planted the cross on April 21, 1521, a few days after the king of Cebu, Rajah Humabon, his wife Queen Juana, his sons and daughters, and around 800 of his subjects were baptized by Father Pedro Valderrama. The baptism of Rajah Humabon and his subjects are depicted on a painting on the ceiling of the Magellan's Cross chapel or kiosk.

Note: Within walking distance from the Magellan's Cross is Plaza Hamabar, a public park built as tribute to Rajah Humabon.

Magellan's Cross in Cebu City, Philippines
The cross of tindalo wood encasing Magellan's Cross in Cebu City, Philippines

Improvements to the Site of the Magellan's Cross

The site of the Magellan's Cross was improved in 1735 by Reverend Juan Albarran, Prior of the San Agustin Church, now the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. This was further improved in 1834 by Reverend Santos Gomez Marañon, then the bishop of Cebu. Recently, it has also undergone a facelift in late 2015 and just reopened to the public.