Macau
Las Vegas of the Orient
Macau tours, sightseeing, Macau City Centre, Ruins of St. Paul’s

Macau City Centre

Old alleys, picturesque cemeteries and great view points

The bus stop near The Master Hotel, on Rua das Lorchas, is probably a good starting point for sightseeing this part of Macau. 

 

Hong Kung temple is an old Chinese temple, originally built in 1750. It is dedicated to Kwan Tai (a Chinese god of war, also known as Guan Yu) and has some interesting artifacts, worth seeing.

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The temple stands near the corner of Rua das Estalagens and Rua de Cinco de Outubro.  From the Master, walk northward for a couple of minutes, turn right to Rua de Constantino Brito, pass Hotel East Asia, turn left to Rua de Cinco de Outubro and straight to the corner of Rua das Estalagens.

 

Alternatively, you can turn right to Rua de Miguel Aires (one corner after Rua de Constantino Brito) and proceed to Rua das Estalagens.

 

Keep on walking along Rua das Estalagens, turn left to Rua de S. Paulo and you will reach the  Ruins of St. Paul's, one of Macau's best known sightseeing spots.  Standing atop of a massive flight of stone stairs, the impressive façade is the only remain of St. Paul's Cathedral and College.  Built between 1582 and 1602 by the Jesuits, the Cathedral was the largest Catholic church in Asia at the time, and the royalty of Europe vied with each other to bestow upon it the best gifts.

 

After the jesuits were expelled from Macau, in the 18th century, the Cathedral was taken over by the army and, in 1835, it was destroyed by fire.

 

A small insight from 'Metropolasia-Man' :

St. Paul's Cathedral and College was the largest Catholic church in Asia at the time and the royalty of Europe vied with each other to bestow upon it the best gifts... 

 

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The ruins consist of the southern stone façade - intricately carved between 1620 and 1627 by Japanese Christians in exile from their homeland and local craftsmen, under the direction of Italian Jesuit Carlo Spinola - and the crypts of the Jesuits who established and maintained the Cathedral.

 

The carvings on the façade include Jesuit images with oriental themes, such as a woman stepping on a seven-headed hydra, described by Chinese characters as 'the Holy Mother tramples the heads of the dragon'.  Other carvings describe the founders of the Jesuit Order, the conquest of death by Jesus, and at the very top, a dove with its wings outstretched.

 

A steel stairway allows access to the top part of the façade.

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At the back of the ruins is the Museum of sacred art and Crypt where you can see objects of high historical and artistic value, dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries (mostly related to the history of the catholic missions in the region). The crypt contains the relics of Japanese and Vietnamese martyrs.

 

The Museum is open daily, 9 am - 6 pm and the entrance is free.

 

The hill next to the ruins of St. Paul's is Fortaleza do Monte (Mount fortress), Macau's historical military centre and one of the city's strongest defence points.

 

The fort was initially built by the Jesuits between 1617 and 1626 as part of a complex that included St. Paul's college and cathedral. It was restored in the 1990s and became a public park, where the fort's ramparts and walls can be seen alongside some ancient canons.

 

The top platform of Mount Fortress has a landscaped garden, offering some lovely views of the cityscape.

 

Most of the ancient fortress is now occupied by The Museum of Macau, one of the best attractions in Macau.  Built into the fortress, this excellent museum spreads over three floors and 15 galleries that showcase the history of Macau, from prehistoric times until our days, in a very interesting way and with great emphasize on the city's different communities and their culture.

 

Visiting the museum of Macau is highly recommended and you should make a point to spend at least one or two hours there, in order to appreciate the rich and diversified exhibitions.

 

The museum is open daily (except Monday), 10 am - 6 pm.  Admission fees are MOP$ 15 for an adult and MOP$ 8 for children (under 11 years), students and elders (above 60 years old).  Admission is free on the 15th of every month

For more information, visit the museum's website

Within the museum premises, there is an excellent souvenir shop and a café. (The entrance to the museum is next to the Ruins of St. Paul's)

 

Next to the ruins of St. Paul's (on the left side - at the back), you can visit the Na Tcha Temple. This tiny Chinese temple was built in 1888 as an attempt to stop a plague that devastated the city and is dedicated to Na Tcha (also known as Nata or Na Zha), a Chinese deity, often depicted flying in the sky with a wheel of fire under each of his feet, a golden hoop (the "cosmic ring") around his shoulder and a spear in his hands... He is usually depicted as a youngster and rarely as an adult.

 

Adjacent to the tiny temple, you can see a small section of the old city walls that managed to survived the years...

The walls were built as early as 1569 and are made of Chunambo - a local material made from a mixture of clay, sand, rice straw, ground rocks and oyster shells, compacted in layers.

 

From the temple (and the section of the wall), turn left and walk down Calcada de S. Francisco Xavier to the bottom, where you turn right to Rua de S. Paulo (which becomes Rua de Santo Antonio) and walk along it until you arrive at the

St. Anthony Church (Santo Antonio).

You can also walk down St. Paul's staircase and turn right to Rua de S. Paulo.  

St. Anthony Church was originally built from bamboo at around 1560 and is one of Macau's three oldest churches (even though the present neo-classical structure dates back to 1930).

 

Luis de Camoes Garden lies across the street from St. Anthony Church.  Named after Portugal's national poet, Luís de Camões, this well groomed park is a lovely place to take a relaxing stroll and enjoy the beautiful rocky hill landscape.

 

During the morning, the park is frequented by groups of Tai Chi practicers, as well as elder people who come here with their caged birds.

The park's most famous spot is the grotto in which the great poet worked on his famous epic poem, Os Lusíadas ("The Lusiads"), when he lived in Macau.

The 19th century bust at the entrance to the grotto commemorates Camões and his famous poem.

 

At the entrance to the garden, there is a fountain that contains a bronze sculpture named "Embrace". The sculpture symbolizes the old friendship between Portugal and China.

 

A small insight from 'Metropolasia-Man' :

The grotto in which Portugal's national poet, Luís de Camões, worked on his famous epic poem, Os Lusíadas ("The Lusiads"), when he lived in Macau, is marked by a 19th century bust. 

 

Adjacent to the Luis de Camoes Garden is the Casa Garden, an impressive colonial villa, surrounded by a magnificent garden. The house was first built in 1770 by a wealthy Portuguese trader and was later on rented to the British East India Company, which used it as residence for its senior officers.  Today, the place houses the offices of the Orient Foundation, a Macau cultural foundation.

 

Next to Casa Garden's gate is the Old Protestant CemeteryIn 1821, the British East India Company purchased this small piece of land, just outside the city walls, in order to establish a cemetery for Macau's small protestant community.  Before then, the protestants faced a serious problem as they were not allowed to burry their dead in either Catholic or Chinese cemeteries.

 

The cemetery's detailed tombstones reveal the stories of some famous figures and the place is definitely worth a short visit.

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From the gardens, walk along the narrow pathway which starts on the right side of the cemetery's gate and moves along the cemetery's wall, and down with a staircase to Rua do Patane.  Cross it and walk along Rua de Entre-Campos till its end and turn left to Estrada do Repouso.  After a few steps, turn left to Travessa da Corda, near the historic art-deco building of Cinema Alegria.  On your left hand side, you will see the Lin Kai Temple.  First built in the 17th century, this temple is dedicated to Ua Kuong, a Chinese dark-faced deity who protects against fire, as well as to some other Chinese gods, like the monkey god (Sun Wukong), Kwan Tai and Kun Lam.

 

The small temple is rich in sculptures and statues and its granite façade features some beautiful carvings.

 

Outside the temple, on the pavement, there is a small flea market... But the stuff they sell there is not that impressive...

 

Walk down on Estrada do Repouso (southwards, as if you are going back to the city centre), on the corner of Estrada de Coelho do Amaral you will see the Fire Services Museum (Museu dos Bombeiros)

Located in a 1920s European style building, the museum features the history of Macau's fire-fighting services and it's worth visiting, especially if you are accompanied by kids who might show interest in the old vehicles.

 

The museum is open daily, 10 am - 6 pm and the entrance is free.

 

Keep on walking along Estrada do Repouso, up the hill to the roundabout, where you turn left to Rua de Tomas Vieira (Estrada do Cemiterio), where the beautiful St. Michael Cemetery is located.

Macau's largest Catholic cemetery is a fascinating example of the city's cultural diversity, with lavishly ornamented tombs that combine Chinese and European motifs.  The 1875 chapel at the centre of the cemetery has some nice stained-glass windows, worth looking at.

 

Continue walking down along Estrada do Cemiterio, all the way to the large square at the end, and turn left to Avenida do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida, where some beautiful 1920s neo-classical buildings are standing - facing the square.  Housed in one of those beautifully restored buildings, the Tap Seac gallery hosts various art exhibitions and while it mainly promotes local artists, it also showcases art from abroad.

The gallery is open daily, 10 am - 7 pm and the entrance is free

Adress: No. 95, Avenida do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida

For more information about the gallery and current exhibitions, visit their website.   

 

Continue walking up along Avenida do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida, for another minute or two, and you will reach the splendid Lou Lim Leoc Garden which is, possibly, one of Macau's most beautiful landscaped gardens (although it is a bit run down nowadays).  Built by a wealthy 19th century Chinese trader, the garden features some lovely Chinese elements... Lotus ponds with gold fish, Chinese pavilions, bridges and winding paths.

 

Adjacent to the garden, is the Macau Tea Culture House (Casa Cultural de Cha de Macau)Located in a lovely colonial house, this newly opened museum presents the tea culture of Macau through various exhibitions - quite interesting.         

Open daily (except Monday), 9 am - 7 pm.  Entrance is free

 

From the garden, cross Avenida do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida, enter Estrada de Adolfo Loureiro and, at its end, turn left to Avenida Sidonio Pais (parallel to Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida), where you will find Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial House.  Located within a beautiful oriental mansion, the memorial house commemorates the activities and the philosophy of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the renowned Chinese revolutionary and political leader who played a major role in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and assisted in transforming China from a monarchy to a republic.

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Sun, who is often referred to as the "father of modern China", received his education in Hong Kong and his epoch-making career was inseparable from Hong Kong, where he nurtured his revolutionary ideas. He stayed and worked in this Macau house between 1892 and 1894.

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The memorial house is open daily (except Tuesday), 10 am - 5 pm and the entrance is free.

 

A short walk along Avenida Sidonio Pais (northward - away from city center) will bring you to Flora Garden (Jardim da Flora) at the base of Guia Hill (It's something like a five minutes walk from the Memorial House).

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This European-styled park was once the property of a noble Portuguese family and formed a part of their mansion, called Flora Palace.  Today, the park features some lovely landscaped gardens, a small zoo, an aviary and a stone pathway that winds upward, past small waterfalls and belvederes, to the top of Guia Hill, the highest point in Macau peninsula (entrance is from Travessa do Tunel).

 

An easier way to get to the top of the hill (and to enjoy some lovely views on the way) is to board the cable car, near the park's gate. The cable car operates daily (except Monday), 8 am - 6 pm.  The trip costs MOP$ 3 - one way or MOP$ 5 - return.

The Flora Garden is open daily, 7 am - 8:30 pm and the admission is free.

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The Guia Hill Municipal Park offers some great city and harbor views, as well as some lovely walks amidst the beautiful green landscapes.  The highlight of the visit to the hill is, by all means, the impressive Guia Fortress.

 

The fortress and the chapel were constructed in the early 1600s, following an unsuccessful attempt by the Dutch to invade Macau (in 1622).  The initial idea behind the fort was to protect the city from naval attacks but thanks to its position on the peninsula's highest point, it mainly served as an observation point.

 

The lighthouse was built between 1864 and 1865 and is the first western style lighthouse on the China coast. It stands at 91 meters tall and has a light visible for some 20 miles in clear weather conditions.

 

In 1998, frescoes were uncovered in the chapel during routine conservation work, representing both western and Chinese themes.

 

Another place of interest (on the hill) are the underground tunnels, commonly known as the Air Raid Shelters. The longest tunnel is 456 metres and the shortest 47 (the entrance to the tunnels is on the way between the light house and the cable-car)

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