Magellan’s Cross

Close to 500 years ago, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted a huge Christian cross in Sugbu (now Cebu) to celebrate the baptism into the Roman Catholic religion of island chief Rajah Humabon, his wife, and some 500 of their followers on April 21, 1521. The 485-year-old cross, called Magellan's Cross (click on photos to enlarge), now stands at a small chapel located across Cebu City Hall and along Magallanes Street. The street is named after Magellan, Magallanes being the Spanish translation of the Portuguese explorer's name. Magellan's crossA sign below the cross says the original Magellan's Cross is encased in the tindalo wood cross displayed in the center of the chapel. This is to protect it from people who chipped away parts of the cross believing it has miraculous powers or as souvenirs. Some, however, say that the original cross planted by Magellan was destroyed or lost and what stands there now is a replacement planted by Spaniards who came after the Portuguese explorer. Magellan was killed on April 27, 1521 in what is now known as the Battle of Mactan. The Portuguese explorer died when his men fought Mactan natives led by the island's chieftain, Lapu-Lapu. Cebu City Hall now uses the cross as a symbol and the chapel's image can be found in the city seal. Many other Cebu-based government and non-government organizations use Magellan's Cross in their seals and logos. Magellan's Cross markerThe cross is a popular tourist attraction together with other Cebu historical landmarks like the Fort San Pedro, built by the Spanish conquistador who came some 40 years after Magellan, and the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niņo, considered the oldest church in the Philippines. Within the vicinity of Magellan's Cross are Cebu guitar vendors and shellcraft and woodcraft displays. The products are popular with the locals and tourists. Magellan's Cross, as with many areas and landmarks in Cebu, is currently being renovated and restored in preparation for the province's hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit this December. How to get there Shell and woodcraft vendors outside Magellan's CrossMagellan's Cross is right in front of the old Cebu City Hall building, which is now being renovated as a legislative building, in downtown Cebu near the port area. The easiest way to go to the area is to take a taxi, all drivers know where it is. If you're from the uptown area, the taxi ride may cost you around P60. If you're coming from Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan Island, the taxi fare may be around P200. If you feel adventurous and you want to tour Cebu City via public transport, you can take one of the many public utility jeepneys with routes passing near the area. Just check the jeepney's signboard, usually on the windshield, if it says City Hall or Basilica (for the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niņo, which is right next to Magellan's Cross). More photos, click on thumbnails to view larger images: Spanish era-style lampposts Guitar vendors near Magellan's Cross Magellan's Cross
  • Katreena Frances G. Monje

    I really love HISTORY. One of the topics is all about the colonization of FERDINAND Magellan. It is very interesting, U really love study it.

  • Myke R. – dodger209

    I think the Philippine government should promote more use of the Spanish language (eg: filipino-spanish: Chavacano). Filipinos adapt really well to learning different languages so whats the difference if we keep Spanish as a 2nd or even 3rd language of the country. Even today, many of our daily customs were taught to us from the colonization of the Spanish.

  • Angeline Rosales

    I also love histories, so interesting!
    And did you know, that they say that Magellan’s Cross was really “planted” because when people pray to it, each day, the cross makes a miracle in the way of growing.

  • Darine Froy N. Mabunga

    history, really, is not a boring subject.. if you’ll only just appreciate it you’ll know that it is one of the most amazing lesson of our’ll be surprise about the remarkable voyage of magellan and you’ll then find yourself hooked upon it.. and the rest is HISTORY!!!!!!!!

  • Paul Morrow

    After Magellan was killed in Mactan, Rajah Humabon, the recently baptized ruler of Cebu, feared retaliation from Lapu Lapu because he had sided with Magellan when Magellan had burned Lapu Lapu’s village. Humabon killed approximately 30 of Magellan’s men at a banquet in an attempt to capture their remaining ships rather than lose their protection, since they were planning to leave Cebu. The original cross that Magellan had erected, which was placed on a hilltop, was actually destroyed by followers of Rajah Humabon, as the survivors of Magellan’s armada escaped Cebu.

  • This topic is one to be my greatest favorites. It tells me a lot of things from our past and what Filipinos did from the past. How they become Philippine Heroes and etc. And loving all about HISTORY is very an amiable thing!!! (^-^) It’s extremly great!!!

  • Manuel C. Diaz

    Magellan’s cross in Cebu is a big fake. The first cross that was planted was on top of one of the mountains in Masawa Island.

    The Catholic church has been feeding this century old hoax to the gullible Filipinos.

    There is nothing inside that supposed encasement.

    It is about time that the Filipinos should be freed from this great deception of the Catholic Church.

  • History is really interesting,,mabuhay si Lapu Lapu!!!!

  • uhm…. bagsik…

  • Cebu my home land….

  • Im doing a class report on it.

  • bhadz

    ..thank you, it really helps me in my History report. Keep up the good work!

  • bhadz

    ….it is a good site where students can acquire more information about the history in our local area. Viva Pit Senior!

  • Manuel C. Diaz

    December 09, 2007

    If there is really a cross inside the encasement why not ask the Catholic Church to view and take photographs via fiber optics the inside of the “Cebu Magellan Cross”?

  • Leleth

    The only word Perfectly discribe CEBU is “WOW THE BEST”

  • jensine tabasa

    thank you, it really helps a lot when it comes to school projects.
    -jensine, 8yrs. old –
    (Sept.28, 2008)

  • learsi sajulga

    gud day!!!
    hey thanks for posting this article!
    really good!haha
    it adds info to my life as a student.

  • Paulo Batulan

    So this article really gives a lesson to each of us FILIPINOS on how to love and respect our natives especially my homeland together with antoniette jane c magno. But as what my grandmother said that the magellan’s cross was not that totally impressive ‘coz the cross was being ate by the insects which we cebuanos commonly called “anaY”…

  • Keith Kampe

    I just saw this for the first time today. The chapel itself is not very impressive BUT the history behind it is remarkable! It kind of gave me goosebumps to know that I was standing in the same exact place that one a history’s most famous person, Magellan, stood almost 500 years earlier!

  • anrol

    Hi, do you know what time does it open? Can visitors go there at 8 am? if not, what time? thanks

  • dubious

    “take photographs via fiber optics” — hahaha! manuel, you made my day!

  • The city that I love. I always go here at Magellan’s cross to take pictures. Thanks for the information.

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  • ronald g. buenaflor

    Hey,it so interesting, if we are remember in our history, i really appreciate it you’ll know that it is one of the most important lesson in our life, we can’t 4 get…..