Macau Attractions and top things to see Guide  
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Macau Attractions and top things to see Guide

Senate Square (Largo Senado)

Largo Senado or Senate Square is a wave-like pavement that was created by Portuguese experts in a traditional style found in many parts of Southern Europe. The Square features a fountain in the shape of a sphere, along with monumental plants and benches. Vehicles are not allowed in the area, but bicycles and light vehicles are exempted.

Loyal Senate (Leal Senado)

The Leal Senado was built in 1583, and was the virtual government of Macau until 1833. At present, the Senate acts as a municipal government, which is in charge of parks, sanitation, markets, water, and other everyday necessities.

The Senate boasts of its fine architectural styles with an elegant whitewashed façade, a stone staircase, an interior garden, and a spacious foyer. The previously abandoned foyer now houses a collection of paintings, sculptures, and photographs. Some of the old offices have also been transformed into an art gallery.

A library upstairs is filled with books, creating one of the world's best collections of literature - in English - on China. Works include scholarly tones, travel diaries, stories of missionaries and soldiers, bound copies of society journals, and historical romances. There is also a collection of newspapers published in Macau, which you can check for all that happened from the day you were born.

The library was constructed in the 1920s in emulation of the library of Coimbra University in Portugal. Its structure is dignified with carved teak paneling and graceful chandeliers. It is open Mondays to Saturdays from 1 to 7 p.m.

The Cathedral (S)

The Cathedral stands on the site of several previous cathedrals. The original cathedral was the church of Our Lady of Hope of St. Lazarus, which was declared the mother church of the Macau Diocese, as well as the religious provinces of China, Japan, Korea, and other islands adjacent to China. It was rebuilt in 1937 due to a typhoon that destroyed the first stone cathedral in 1874. The Cathedral now comprises two solid towers and massive doors with exquisite stained-glass windows inside the monument.

Many major events of the church calendar are focused here, especially on Easter when there is a solemn parade on Good Friday and special masses on Easter Sunday. The procession of Our Lord of the Passion is also held here.

St. Augustine's (Santo Agostinho)

This 1814 structure consists of a spacious interior with three aisles separated by colonnades with a marble-clad altar that holds a statue of Christ carrying the cross. It is said that when this statue was taken to the Cathedral by Church authorities, it would somehow mysteriously return to the altar of the church.

During the annual festival of Our Lord of the Passion (Nosso Senhor dos Passos), a procession is held on the first Sunday of Lent. The statue is taken to the Cathedral for a night and is paraded the next day through the streets where the Stations of the Cross are set up, and, attended by the clergy and hundreds of citizens, is restored to St. Augustine's.

St. Dominic's (São Domingos)

The church was established by Dominican friars in the 16th Century and is presently a prominent feature of Macau's central square. The building is a baroque façade with cream-washed stone, white stucco, and green shutters. Its doors are not open all the time, but only during services. You have to ring the bell on the adjoining green gate to enter the church at other times.

The basic shape of the façade is repeated at the great altar, with the elaboration of elegant columns, saintly statues, and clusters of candelabras. Its chapels boasts of delicate ivory and wooden saints carved by local Chinese craftsmen, as well as its flat wooden ceiling with its fretwork panels.

Monte-Fort (Fortress of S. Paulo do Monte)

Occupying 21,000 square feet, the fort was constructed between 1617 to 1626 by the Jesuits of chunambo. The fort was built on granite foundations, with brick guardrooms and cannon housings. Its barracks, cisterns, and storehouses are capable of sustaining siege of up to two years.

The fort was initially part of a complex together with the college and church of St. Paul's. However, when Mascarenhas arrived to be governor, he turned the Jesuits out and the fort became a government house until 1749. It was then transferred to a building on Praia Grande.

Today, the fort is a public park with spectacular views of St. Paul's and the city. It also functions as a site for meteorologists to study the weather, which is open for visitors to see the tracking charts and weather watching equipment. Opening hours are from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (May to September), and from 7:00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. (October to April).

St. Lawrence's (São Lourenço)

The church underwent a phase of changes since completion in the 1560s. Originally built from wood, it was replaced by taipa in 1618 and later reconstructed in stone in 1801. Further renovations took place throughout the 19th Century. After an extensive restoration, St. Lawrence's is now the most fashionable church in Macau.

The church stands in a garden filled with palm trees and can be approached from the rear, or by way of a grand staircase and ornamental gate. Its twin towers are painted in cream and white, with a fine Chinese tile roof. The interior is richly adorned with a magnificent wooden ceiling painted turquoise with white and gold beams, from which elegant chandeliers hang. The high altar holds a figure of St. Lawrence in beautiful vestments. Above him hangs a crown held by a cherub and at the back is a stained glass window with a dove of peace. The church is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is close on public holidays.

A-Ma Temple

Macau's name is derived from A-Ma-Gau or Place of A-Ma, and this temple commemorates the seafarers' goddess, A-Ma. Built in the early 16th Century, the temple consists of prayer halls, pavilions, and courtyards that sits on a boulder-strewn hill and is linked by winding paths through moon gates and tiny gardens. At the entrance is a large rock on which is engraved a traditional sailing junk. Other boulders contain red character carvings conjuring the gods or the repetition of a prayer.

Three of the four pavilions are dedicated to A-Ma and holds a few statues of the goddess together with a model of a junk with cannons, brass vessels, and shrines to Buddhist and Taoist gods. A festival of A-Ma is held on the 23rd day of the third moon (April or May). On weekends, a display of firecrackers is put on with lion dance performances at the entrance courtyard to scare away evil spirits and to greet tour groups.

Maritime Museum

Across the A-Ma temple is one of the world's best museums devoted to all things maritime. Built on the site where the Portuguese first arrived, the museum is designed like a stylized junk, with floating exhibits of old crafts, exhibits featuring the world of fishermen, as well as the seaborne explorations of Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho and the Portuguese, complete with models of their ships.

The museum opens daily except on Tuesdays. Hours start from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and admission is 8 patacas. A half-hour tour of the Inner Harbour on a junk is available daily (except Tuesdays) at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. The fare is 10 patacas.

Kung Iam Temple

Dating back to 1627, the Kung Iam temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. It is one of the biggest and richest of Macau's temples with a massive entrance gate and roofs clumped with porcelain figures. Separated by open courtyards are richly decorated halls dedicated to the Precious Buddhas, the Buddha of Longevity and Kung Iam. The latter is dressed in embroidered silk with a fringed crown, which is changed every year. Eighteen Buddhas attend Kung Iam on either side of the altar.

In adjoining rooms are funeral chapels and scrolls honoring the deity in pictures and calligraphy. At the back of the temple are gardens, one of which lays a historic stone table where the first Sino-American treaty was signed on July 3, 1844 by the Viceroy of Canton, Ki Ying, and the United States Minister, Caleb Cushing. Adjacent is a marble statue of a monk in an ornate pavilion and four banyan trees with braided branches, which is known as the Lover's Tree and a symbol of martial fidelity. Other features of the gardens are the fountains in miniature Chinese landscapes, groves of bamboo, and small shrines of departed priests. The Kung Iam festival is celebrated on the 19th day of the second, sixth, ninth, and eleventh moon.

Lin Fung Miu

This Temple of Lotus appeared in 1592 and was since then regularly restored. The temple boasts of a fine façade of intricate clay bas-relief carved in the 19th Century delineating historical and mythological figures. Stone lions guard the entrance to a hall with a statue of Tin Hau on the altar, flanked by the guardian generals.

Beyond the temple is a courtyard adorned with a frame of writhing dragons, a lotus-filled pond, and fine iron brazier. In the main hall is a statue of Kung Iam on an elaborate altar, and beside her is a shrine to Kwan Tai. Lin Fung Miu is historically famous as the place where, for centuries, Chinese from Guangdong Province would stay when they came to Macau. The most famous visitor was Commissioner Lin Zexiu, who spent most of September 3, 1839 in Macau. He is honored with a six-foot granite statue and a new museum in the temple courtyard. The museum opens daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lou Lim Ioc

Portraying the style of the great gardens of Suzhou, the Lou Lim Ioc is a purely Chinese garden, which was built during the last century by a wealthy merchant. It is a miniature world with bamboo 'forests', a concrete 'mountain', and a great lake in the form of a pond complete with graceful carps and a zigzag bridge to the central pavilion (as evil spirits move in straight lines), where cultural events are occasionally held.

Guia Fort (Fortress of Our Lady of Guia)

The fort holds the reputation of being the highest point of Macau, occupying 8,600 square feet in a rough pentagon with walls rising about 10 feet in a gentle slope and two original brickwork turrets.

A Captain of Artillery, António Ribeiro, built this fort from 1637 to 1638. Its purpose was to defend the border against China. Due to its position, which overlooks the entire city, its main value has been more of an observation post. It had barracks, a water cistern, ammunition and equipment stores, the commander's house, as well as a shelter dedicated to Our Lady of Guia.

Atop the fort is a lighthouse built in 1865, the oldest on the China coast. It is 52.5 feet high and has a light that can be seen for 20 miles in clear weather. Initially, it was lit by paraffin but was switched to electrical power in 1909. There is also a small chapel with a simple altar, a few antique pictures, and the remains of colorful paintings that once blanketed the ceilings and walls. At the entrance is a gravestone stating in Portuguese: 'Here lies at this gate the remains of Christopher, by accident, for his body does not deserve such an honorable sepulcher. Who he was and why he is buried here continues to remain a mystery.

One of the guardhouses is now a tourist information center and café, and is open daily between 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Cybernetic Fountain

In front of the Ferry Terminal, set in the small reservoir, is a computer controlled cybernetic fountain that has 292 water jets and sprays, with the tallest reaching 70 meters. A colorful water show is on every night from 8 to 10 p.m.

Chapel of Our Lady of Penha

Founded in 1622 by the crew and passengers of a ship, which had narrowly escaped capture by the Dutch, the chapel served as a point of pilgrimage for sailors embarking on a hazardous voyage. It was completely rebuilt in 1837. The chapel opens daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Barrier Gate

Barrier Gate is a border between Macau and China, and is situated at the northern end of Istmo Ferreira do Amaral. The gateway is part of a small park featuring large stone pictures and maps of old Macau. The border opens daily from 7 a.m. to midnight. A tourist information counter is available here.

São Paulo (St. Paul's)

St. Paul's church is Macau's greatest church, with its magnificent stone façade and grand staircase. The church was constructed in 1602 adjoining the Jesuit College of St. Paul's, the first Western college in the Far East where missionaries such as Matteo Ricci and Adam Schall studied Chinese before serving at the Ming Court in Peking as astronomers and mathematicians.

The church was made of wood and taipa with exquisite decorations and furnishings. The facade of carved stone was built between 1620 to 1627 by Japanese Christian exiles and local craftsmen under the direction of Italian Jesuit Carlo Spinola. After the ostracism of the Jesuits, the college was used as an army barracks, and in 1835, a fire scorched the college and the body of the church. The surviving façade, raised in 4 colonnaded tiers, is covered with carvings and statues, which eloquently illustrate the early days of the Church in Asia. Statues of the Virgin and saints, symbols of the Garden of Eden and the Crucifixion, angels and the devils, a Chinese dragon and a Japanese chrysanthemum, a Portuguese sailing ship, and pious warnings inscribed in Chinese are among the many features left of the site.

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