Macau has a rich heritage from both its Chinese and Portuguese past that includes many outstanding examples of western and oriental art and culture. Here you will find Chinese temples, catholic churches; ancient forts and other historical relics within a modern environment that bear testimony to a cultural blend of east and west.
Macau comprises the Macau Peninsula and the outlying islands of Taipa and Coloane. Popular sightseeing places that form part of a visitor’s itinerary are spread all over the Peninsula.
This splendid square, Largo do Senado, with its wave-patterned pavement and central fountain is a highlight of the area. The surrounding simple, elegant Portuguese and baroque style buildings house many international branded clothes shops and restaurants. An exploration of the narrow alleyways that radiate from the square will open up to the visitor yet more fantastic places including curio markets, pharmacies, snack stalls and jewelry shops selling dazzling items.
The Monte Fort, one of the best-preserved forts in Macau can be seen from the main square and the Ruins of St. Paul’s, standing close to the Fort, is a local landmark. A walk northward along St. Paul’s Street leads to the façade of St. Paul’s Church, which was devastated by fire in 1835, with its elegant reliefs that illustrate Bible stories. An
underground tomb behind the ruins houses the remains of Catholic martyrs. The Museum of Macau, to the right of the ruins, should not be missed as it has an excellent exhibition of items telling much of the history of the city.
The 400-year colonial rule by the Portuguese has left Macau many baroque Roman Catholic churches dating from 18th century while the dominant Chinese population has brought traditional Chinese culture with its unique temple architectures. Both can be found in the western area between the Inner Harbor and Nam Van Lakes in the city.
Starting from Largo do Senado, the heart of downtown, and a walk in a southwesterly direction along the main street brings you to several Catholic churches. Notable among them is St Augustine’s, St. Lawrence’s, the Chapel of St. Joseph’s Seminary and the Headquarters of the Macau SAR. These show much of the Catholic influence on the city. Some churches open to the public.
Situated at the base of Penha Peninsula is A-Ma Temple, built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The temple is dedicated to the sacred goddess A-Ma, which later was transliterated into ‘Macau’ by the Portuguese and so became the Portuguese name for Macau. Today this old-time temple is a symbol of the city and devout worshipers visit the temple to pray for good luck. Cross the A-Ma Street, you will reach the Maritime Museum in a building shaped like a boat, where you can learn more about the early days when Portuguese first time set foot here.