Legazpi, the capital of the province of Albay and the government center of Bicol, is one of the Philippines’ premier destinations and among the fastest growing cities. Situated on the shores of the Albay Gulf, 16 kilometers southeast of the beautifully symmetrical Mount Mayon, Legazpi is blessed with a spectacular landscape and scenery that has enthralled visitors and graced innumerable photos and postcards over the years.
Legazpi is also the most convenient gateway to Bicol owing to its central location in the geographic heart of the region and its complete land, air, and sea transportation facilities. The city also has all the modern amenities and facilities for the tourists’ convenience – from several malls and shopping hubs to hotels and inns catering to a wide range of budgets.
Renowned as a tourist city for many decades because of world-famous Mayon Volcano, the Legazpi of today is more than just your front seat to Mayon or jump-off point to Bicol’s attractions. Offering a fusion of nature, adventure and culture experiences, Legazpi is already a complete destination by itself.
In 1587, Franciscan friars of the Doctrina de Cagsawa began to convert the area’s population to Christianity and in 1616, founded a separate parish town a few kilometres inland called Albay. Its first parish priest built a small chapel and established the Misión de San Gregorio Magno de Sawangan. Eventually, Sawangan was absorbed into Albay, which later gave its name to the entire province.
On September 22, 1856, through Royal Decree, the name Legazpi was officially adopted and the settlement was expanded to include the visitas of Lamba, Rawis and Bigaa. The newly expanded and independent town of Legazpi was officially inaugurated on October 23, 1856.
After the eruption of Mayon Volcano on February 1, 1814, Legazpi residents evacuated to Makalaya (now Taysan). At the decree of the Gobierno Superior on October 1, 1829, they were prohibited from establishing another town, leaving them to settle in Taytay (Bagumbayan). In 1818, Sawangan (now called Albay Viejo, ‘Old Albay‘), was partitioned from Cagsawa and made the capital of Partido de Ibalon (the former name of Albay Province). Some remained in Albay Viejo and established a new settlement around an ermita (hermitage/chapel of ease) dedicated to the Archangel Raphael, whom they adopted as their patron saint after SaintGregory the Great had been transferred to the new site of Albay.
Having attained economic progress, autonomy and prosperity, Legazpi was declared open to world trade by the Cedula real of May 18, 1872.
The City began as a Barangay called Sawangan (now Legazpi Port) whose inhabitants were mostly fisherman and farmers. From 1587 to 1616, the spiritual administration of the town was under the Franciscan friars of the DOCTRINA OF CAGSAWA (now Daraga). Officially the Royal Decree dated 22 September 1856 gave the name Legazpi to the ancient village of Sawangan, to perpetuate the memory of the Adelantado Don Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. Don Lorenzo Hac was the first elected Gobernadorcillo. Rev. Camilo Abainza was acting Parish Priest. First the City under the Becerra Law of 1892, it was dissolved into a municipality during the American occupation. A city for the second time for virtue of Republic Act No. 306 dated at July 1948, which included the Municipality of Daraga. On 8 June 1954, it was once more recreated as a municipality. Finally, on 12 June 1959, per Republic Act No. 2234, as amended by Republic Act No. 5525, Legazpi became a city for the third time. Presidential Decree No. 125, issued in 1973, declares the Municipality of Daraga as part of Legazpi City.
New tourism developments introduced in the past few years have reaffirmed Legazpi not only as a place where nature’s grandeur abounds, but also as an adventure destination and a melting pot of Bicolano culture.