In a now infamous navigational error, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his Spanish fleet came upon Cebu while searching for spices and the Moluccas.
He planted a huge wooden cross on local soil on April 14, 1521 to mark his landing and the baptism of Cebu’s King and Queen, Raja Humabon and Raya Humamay, and 400 of their followers into the Catholic faith.
Now called Magellan’s Cross, it stands at a small chapel located between Cebu City Hall and the Basilica del Sto. Niño along Magallanes Street, named also after the explorer.
A sign at the bottom of its pedestal says the original Magellan’s Cross is encased in the tindalo wood displayed at the center of the chapel. This, it claims, is to protect it from people who chipped away parts of the cross believing it has miraculous powers. Some, however, say that the original cross planted by Magellan was long destroyed or lost under the sand, and what stands there now is a replacement planted by Spaniards who came after the Portuguese explorer.
Through the years, it has become so synonymous with Cebu that the image is found in the official Cebu City seal and figures prominently in graphic representations of the city.