Magellan's Cross – Cebu City, Philippines - Atlas Obscura
Our new kids' book is on sale! Shop now.

Cebu City, Philippines

Magellan's Cross

This holy site either displays a centuries-old cross or a complete fake. 

Standing under a Spanish-styled pavilion in Cebu City, Philippines is a large wooden cross that claims to be the one planted by famed explorer Ferdinand Magellan, yet some believe it is nothing but a replica.

According to the etched plaque at the base of the cross, it is actually made of more recent wood which covers the original crucifix planted in 1521. The story goes that upon his arrival upon the Philippine shores, Magellan ordered the cross set-up by his fellow explorers to mark Europe and Catholicism’s first contact with the islands. In the centuries following the first contact, the cross earned a reputation as a holy item and visitors looking to take away a souvenir or even a supernatural relic began chipping away at the cross until it began to fall apart completely. Before the cross disappeared the city of Cebu which had grown up around the site covered the aging original with all new wood so that it could last for centuries to come. While this is the largely accepted version of the story its also possible that is simply untrue.

It is also believed by some that Magellan’s Cross is nothing more than a recreation of the original which was stolen or destroyed not long after it was placed. No one has yet verified which tale is true, the cross and its ornate chapel remain a popular pilgrimage site for locals and tourists alike.