Cebu is a small yet immensely popular island in the Philippines. It is also the location of the first Spanish settlement of the country; this is where Ferdinand Magellan landed, fought and died. As such, the place is steeped in history, making it a very interesting place for tourists. Though the island has quite a few places of interest, listed below are some of the more famous ones to which tourists flock in very large numbers. Here are the top three tourist spots of Cebu.
Mactan Shrine – This shrine was made to commemorate the achievement of Lapu Lapu, a native Filipino whose men resisted and defeated Portugese explorer Magellan’s men. A life size statue made of bronze has been erected in his honor in the city named after him. Interestingly, there is also a monument dedicated to the vanquished Magellan who died in this battle. This monument is known as Magellan’s Obelisk. Every year in April, the Kadaguan Festival stages a mock battle to relive the historic fight for sovereignty. The festival is quite a colorful and entertaining affair with famous actors participating in the battle re-enactment. Arrangements are made for fresh seafood to be served and a whole bunch of stalls crop up where one can splurge on cheap Filipino souvenirs.
Cebu Taoist Temple – The Cebu Taoist Temple was constructed in 1972 by the city’s significant Chinese population. 300 meters above sea level, this temple is an imposing, multi layered colorful structure. It has three approaches and welcomes worshippers as well as non-worshippers. At the entrance to the temple is a mini Great Wall of China. A huge, winding dragon statue can be seen in the front garden. There is also a library, a chapel, a souvenir shop and a wishing well. Every devotee who comes here is looking for a wish to be granted. The ritual is to wash your hands and enter the temple barefoot and drop two blocks of wood. If these blocks land face up, then the time is ripe to ask the gods for your wish, if not then you’ve got to repeat the pilgrimage and try your luck another time! Non-worshippers who come here are required to maintain the sanctity of the temple by keeping their volume at a minimum and refraining from taking pictures of the altar. This is a very popular tourist site and is very often offered as a side trip in a city tour by Cebu holiday tourist travel guides.
Magellan’s Cross – Magellan’s Cross, a symbol of the King of Spain’s Catholic Legacy was planted by Magellan when he arrived in Cebu in 1521. One of the most prominent landmarks of Cebu’s religious, the wooden cross is housed in a rotunda right next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino. The original cross, supposed to have special powers is believed by some to be contained within the cross that is on display, to save it from souvenir hunters. But many believe that the original cross was lost or destroyed by the time Magellan died, and this one is a replica placed there after the Philippines was fully colonized by the Spaniards.