What is the story of Cebu City

Cebu City: Morning Walk to the most beautiful sights

Around 500 years ago, the Spanish conquered the Philippines on Cebu, and at the same time the population was converted to Catholicism. You can still find numerous traces of history on a walk through downtown Cebu City. Here is a selection of the highlights and sights.

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A few years ago I had already been to Cebu City, but at the time I was passing through from Bohol to Manila and had little time.

This time I want to see more of the historic town center. So i'm happy to be able to take part in a tour of the philippines experience.

Morning walk through Cebu City

My guide picks me up at the hotel at 9 a.m. After a short briefing on how the morning will go, we go to the next major intersection. Because we don't choose a taxi or minibus as a means of transport, but, like most locals, take a jeepney into the city. These brightly colored vehicles are undoubtedly one of the landmarks of the Philippines.

The history of the jeepneys begins with the end of World War II. The retreating American army left many military jeeps in the country at the time. Locals enlarged the vehicles with the help of railroad tracks in order to use them for the transport of groups of people. A new form of public transport in the Philippines had emerged.

Today the vehicles are mass-produced in large factories and usually decorated with bright colors, usually with religious motifs. However, jeepneys are controversial because of their high material costs and fuel consumption. Many cities want vehicles to disappear from the streets and to be replaced by buses.

But it's not that far yet. In many places, jeepneys continue to be the main form of transport in the city. In Cebu City they drive on fixed routes. You get in, name your destination and are given a price. Then you give the money to the driver. If you are at the very back, this means that each passenger will pass your money on until it has reached the front. The change comes back the same way.

7 attractions in Cebu City

First a brief review:

In April 1521, the Spaniard Ferdinand Magellan was the first conquistador to reach the island of Cebu. He had a wooden cross erected on the bank. Christianity had arrived in the Philippines.

Magellan died only a few weeks later fighting the troops of chief Lapo-Lapo, but when the Spaniards returned under the leadership of Legazpi some 40 years later, the conversion of the Philippines to Catholicism and the conquest of the country by the Spaniards finally took its course .

Today more than 80 percent of the population are Catholics. Accordingly - unlike in most other countries in Southeast Asia - Christian churches and not temples or mosques shape the picture. There are some particularly beautiful buildings in Cebu City.

Heritage of Cebu Monument (Parian Monument)

We start our tour at the Heritage of Cebu Monument. The artist Edgardo Castrillo has recreated some of the most important scenes, buildings and people in the history of Cebu with the help of statues, such as the battle between Magellan and Lapo-Lapo. Another statue shows Sergio Osmeña, the former governor of Cebu who later became president of the Philippines. A really interesting monument with a lot to discover.


The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is just a few meters away. The building, erected in the 17th century, is one of the oldest wooden houses in the country. Such houses used to be inhabited by the Chinese community in Cebu City. The Yap-Sandiego is one of the last remaining structures of its kind.

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

Next we reach the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, construction of which began in 1689.

In the 2nd World War, however, the building was destroyed, so that the church had to be rebuilt. Today it is usually well attended and above all a popular place for weddings.

Basilica del Santo Nino

The oldest and holiest church in the Philippines attracts believers en masse. Countless church services take place here on Sundays and public holidays. Since not all people fit into the building, there is a huge inner courtyard where the trade fairs are broadcast on a video screen. The statue of Santo Nino in particular is venerated and is believed to have worked miracles.

During the severe earthquake in 2013, the church tower collapsed. It is currently being rebuilt.

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Magellan's Cross

Directly between the basilica and the City Hall there is a small rotunda on which the last earthquake damage is currently being repaired.

Inside the building there is a cross, which in turn is said to contain the remains of the wooden cross that Magellan had erected in Cebu in 1521.

Fort San Pedro

Then we walk to Fort San Pedro. The old military fortress served as a shelter for Legazpi. The complex with its walls up to eight meters thick is quite nice to look at, but not particularly spectacular.

The exhibitions contained therein offer an interesting look at the history of Cebu. There you will find weapons, coins and documents from the colonial era, among other things.

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Carbon Market

Finally, we visit the oldest and largest market in the city. There are countless fruit and vegetable stalls at the Carbon Market. But meat, fish and souvenirs are also available there.

You can just drift along in the narrow streets and just enjoy the colors, smells and impressions. And there are photo motifs on every corner.

Before we go back to the hotel, I quickly quench my thirst with the contents of a coconut.


A very interesting excursion with a lot of information about the history of the Philippines, which differs significantly from that of other Southeast Asian countries.

Disclosure: I was invited to this tour by experience philippines. No influence was exerted on my reporting.

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About the author

Stefan has been traveling to the countries of Southeast Asia since 2006 and often spends several months there. In 2013 he founded Fascination Southeast Asia and since then has also written several eBooks and books on the subject (including the insider travel guide “555 Tips for Bangkok”). Between his travels he lives and works in Düsseldorf.

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