The city was named after the Tipolo (breadfruit) tree (Artocarpus incisa) which was in abundance in the area.
Franciscan missionaries arrived in Antipolo in 1578 and built a church in Boso-Boso. In 1591 they were replaced by the Jesuits who organized the village into a parish. They built a chapel at Sitio Sta. Cruz. By 1601 there are about 3,000 Christians residing in Antipolo. At about the same period, the Negrito population dwindled, as they moved deeper into the mountains.
On March 25, 1626 Governor-General Juan Niņo de Tabora brought from Acapulco, Mexico the image of the Virgin Mary. Before he died, he bequeathed the image to the Jesuits for the Antipolo Church. Tradition has it that the image was installed in Sitio Sta. Cruz and have been lost several times and each time it was found on a Tipolo tree. Because of these unusual incidents, it was decided in 1632 to erect the church at the site.
In 1639, the Chinese revolt reached Antipolo and burned the church to the ground; however, the image was unharmed. The Virgin was taken to Sitio Ginapao and then brought to Cavite upon orders of the Governor-General. It stayed in Cavite for 14 years. Ten years after the incident the image was renamed "Nuestra Seņora de la Paz y Buen Viaje" (Tagalog: "Ang Mahal na Birhen ng Kapayapaan at Mabuting Paglalayag"; "Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage") and traveled five more times to Acapulco, Mexico before it rested permanently in the town. A replica of the image of the Birhen ng Antipolo is now enshrined in the U.S. for all the immigrant Filipinos. The Oratory of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, is located at the northeast corner of the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. A gift of the Filipino Catholic Community in the United States and around the world, this oratory honors a Marian devotion dating from the 1600s.
The village of Antipolo was made into a town in 1650 as part of the Province of Tondo. When the Tondo was divided into the Province of Manila and the District of Los Montes de San Mateo in 1853, it became part of the latter. The district was later known as the District of Morong.
The Recollects took over Antipolo in 1864. It was during these years that the Virgin of Antipolo gained thousands of devotees. Devotees from Manila and nearby towns and provinces flock to Antipolo on foot along mountain trails and springs.
Two months after the declaration by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898, Antipolo formally joined the Revolutionary Government and it was made the capital of the District of Morong. But when the country was occupied by the Americans on June 4, 1899 the Revolutionary Government was transferred to the town of Tanay.
After a civil government was established in 1901 by the Americans, Valentin Sumulong became the first Presidente (Alcalde) of the town. The province of Morong was renamed Rizal Province and some of the towns near Manila were made part of the province. In 1903, Antipolo, Teresa and Boso-Boso were merged under Act No. 1942 with Antipolo as the center of government.
On March 27, 1903 the Philippine Commission granted the Manila Railroad Company a franchise to construct and operate a railway going to Antipolo. The railway by 1906 was running from Pasig up to Taytay-Cainta it was not until December 24, 1908 that the first train reached Antipolo. In 1913, the sitios of Mayamot and Bulao became part of Antipolo, however on January 1, 1919, Teresa was separated from Antipolo.
The railway no longer exist. A paved road now lies over what used to be the railway which is called daang-bakal (railway). What used to be a station masters office is now inhabited by squatters. Not sure what the city government is planning to do with what is supposed to be a national heritage building/site.
During the Second World War two guerilla units continued the struggle during the Japanese occupation. They were the Hunters ROTC under Miguel Ver and Terry Adevoso and the Marking Filipino-American Troops which was established and led by Marcos Villa Agustin more popularly known under the name Brig. Gen. Agustin Marking. Many inhabitants were tortured and killed by the Japanese, including Mayor Pascual Oliveros and his son Reynaldo, Padre Eusebio Carreon, Padre Ariston Ocampo, Sis. Ma. Elizabeth Cagulanas, RVM, Sis. Ma. Consuelo Recio, RVM; Antonio Masangkay, and Alfonso Oliveros.
The liberation of Antipolo from the Japanese forces was bloody and devastating. On February 17, 1945 Antipolo was heavily bombarded by American planes. Antipolo residents evacuated to Sitio Kulaike and up to the towns of Angono, Santolan, and Marikina. To protect the image from being destroyed, Procopio Angeles, then the sacristan mayor, and members of the community brought with them the Virgin of Antipolo. The bombings on March 6-7, 1945 destroyed the church and after twelve days of battle the American, Filipino soldiers and guerrillas liberated the town on March 12, 1945. After the war a temporary church was built and the Virgin of Antipolo was returned from the Quiapo Church on October 15, 1945.
Devotees started to flock to the town and on May 6, 1947, the first procession of the Virgin of Antipolo was held starting at the hills of Pinagmisahan.
In 1948 a national committee was formed to undertake a nationwide fund raising campaign to build the Cathedral of Antipolo. It was about this time that the Iglesia ni Kristo came to Antipolo.
On June 15, 1952, Hinulugang Taktak was proclaimed a National Park by Pres. Elpidio Quirino and on January 14, 1954, the Bishops of the Philippines proclaimed the Cathedral of Antipolo as the official shrine of the Virgin of Antipolo.
In 1960s, the town proper or poblacion was widened and the Sumulong Highway was constructed. In the 1970s the Marikina-Infanta Road better known as the Marcos Highway was constructed traversing the mountains of Antipolo.
The Diocese of Antipolo was created on June 25, 1983, with Rev. Protacio G. Gungon, D.D as the first bishop of the diocese.
The 1995 Census registered Antipolo's population at 345,000. On February 13, 1998 then Pres. Fidel V. Ramos signed Republic Act No. 8505 making the Municipality of Antipolo into a component city of Rizal Province and on April 4, 1998 it was ratified it in a plebiscite.