All roads lead to Senado Square...
Largo do Senado (The Senate Square) is the heart of the city and possibly one of the most popular of Macau attractions. This large Portuguese-style piazza is surrounded by many heritage sites, as well as coffee shops, restaurants, market lanes and shops, and it's always busy with people...
Avenida Almeida Ribeiro, which borders the square, is one of Macau's main shopping streets and home to the historical building that gave the square its name: Leal Senado Building (Portuguese for Loyal Senate).
Facing the centre of the square, this was the seat of Macau's Government during the old colonial days. The "Loyal Senate" title was granted to Macau's Government in 1810 by Portugal's Prince-Regent João (who later became King John VI of Portugal), as a reward for Macau's loyalty to Portugal during the Iberian Union, between 1580 and 1640.
The building itself was erected in 1784 and other than its nice architecture, it boasts a lovely garden. After the handover of Macau to China, in 1999, it became the headquarters of the "Institute of Civic & Municipal Affairs".
Cross the street and enter the square: On your left side (when facing the square) is the pinkish building of Leitaria I Son : A popular local eatery, serving milk-based puddings and desserts, as well as other favorites. Pass the building and turn left to the small lane of Rua Sul do Mercado de São Domingos, where Sam Kai Vui Kun (Kuan Tai Temple) can be found: This small Chinese temple is dedicated to Kuan Tai (a Chinese god of war, also known as Guan Yu). Before it became a temple, the place housed the area's trader guild who built a warship chamber within the premises. As the trading bazaars started to decline, the guild slowly lost its importance and the place was turned into a temple.
Open daily, 8 am - 6 pm
Rua Sul do Mercado de São Domingos and the small market lanes around it are packed with small shops and factory outlets where inexpensive surpluses are sold... Garments, lingerie, fashion ware, kids clothes, accessories, sportswear, shoes and what not... The new city market complex, on the right side of the street (Complexo Municipal do Mercado de S. Domingos) is also a place you should visit, if you are after bargains.
At the end of the long market building, turn right and you find yourself facing the cream-beige façade of Santo Domingo Church. Built in a Baroque-Filipino style, with green louvers, this is one of Macau's most beautiful churches.
The present building dates back to 1828 and stands on the same site where the original church was built, back in the late 16th century. Other than its beautiful interior, the church also houses a museum, on the 2nd and 3rd floors, where you can see mostly religious exhibits from the history of the Roman-catholic church in Asia (well worth the effort of visiting).
Santo Domingo Church is located at the northernmost end of Senado Square's pedestrian area, which means that you can either walk back to the square and Avenida Almeida Ribeiro from here or you can continue to the sites on the other side of the square...
Walk pass the church and turn right to tiny Travessa da Sé, where the Lou Kau Mansion is located. Built in 1889 as the residence of one of Macau's wealthiest traders, this magnificent court-yard house features an excellent example of typical Chinese mansion architecture, right in the middle of Portuguese Macau. The wood screens, the stained-glass windows and the porches are all very interesting.
Lemon Cello Gellato, on Travessa da Sé, sells some of the best Italian ice cream in Macau.
The Cathedral, another impressive historical landmark, can be found on the small piazza at the top end of the alley (Largo da Se'). Originally built of wood in 1576, the cathedral was housed in various different buildings (one of which was nearly destroyed by a typhoon in 1874) until its present building was inaugurated in 1937.
The main draw here are the stained-glass windows. Otherwise, there is a small private museum in the adjacent Bishop's palace (ask the guard to see it and he will let you in).
From here, you can walk down to Largo Senado through Travessa de S. Domingos, a small alley with a few good wine & dine venues... Boa Mesa is a small café that serves excellent Portuguese fare in a nice and homey environment... Platao, another great restaurant on this tiny street, has a lovely outdoor courtyard where you can dine "alfresco" or enjoy a sundowner, and La Bonne Heure is a lovely bistro-style restaurant, serving fabulous French cuisine in an elegant environment).
The Holy House of Mercy, a beautiful neo-classical building on the left side of the square (when facing the main road), is distinguished for its bright white color and its Roman-styled triangular pediment. The Holy House of Mercy Institution was founded in 1569 by the first bishop of Macau, Dom Belchior Carneiro, in order to provide medical services and other charitable assistance to the community. It was actually the first western-style hospital in China.
There is a small museum within the building where you can see some historical religious artifacts of the institution. The museum is open daily (except Sundays and public holidays) from 10am - 1pm and 2:30 - 5:30 pm (entrance costs MOP$ 5)
If you feel like having some authentic food while in Largo Senado, good-old Long Kei is one of Macau's best Cantonese eateries and an excellent place for yum-cha and delicious dim-sum, while Wong Chi Kei serves some of the most delicious Cantonese noodle dishes in Macau.
Check our Macau Bus Guide for instructions how to get to Senado Square by public transport.
Places of interest near Senado Square:
Rua da Felicidade
St. Augustine's Square (Largo de Santo Agostinho)
Ruins of St. Paul's
Na Tcha Temple and the old city walls
Fortaleza do Monte and the Museum of Macau
Senado Square is part of our suggested walking-tour:
From A-Ma Temple to Senado Square