This can’t be said enough: Macao is not only for gamblers. The special autonomous region has a unique history that makes it stand out among the rest of Chinese regions. If you walk around the old part of the city, you’ll feel like you’re in Portugal instead of China. If you’re an architecture lover, here are some of the spots that you need to visit:
1. Senado Square
A part of the UNESCO Historic Centre of Macao World Heritage Site, the square is the first stop for most visitors. Many of the historic Portuguese sites are concentrated around the beautifully paved square, and many of the pastel-coloured buildings here have been turned into souvenir and snack shops.
2. Ruins of St. Paul
Probably Macao’s single most recognisable landmarks, the Ruins of St. Paul gives visitors a glimpse into a vast 16th century complex, which included the church itself and also St Paul’s College. After you’re done taking selfies with the remaining façade of the church as the background, don’t forget to drop by the Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt.
3. Leal Senado Building
Despite its location right across Senado Square, it’s easy for many visitors to Macao to miss Leal Senado (Loyal Senate). This is probably because the seat of the Portuguese government in Macao is still a functioning government administrative office, but you need not worry because the building, built in 1784, still welcomes visitors.
4. Dom Pedro V Theatre
Built in 1860, the Dom Pedro V Theatre is one of the first western-style theatres in eastern Asia. Built in the honor of the Portuguese king Pedro V, the neoclassical Greek-revival-styled building is still used today to hold special events.
5 St. Dominic’s Church
Easy to access thanks to its location within Senado Square, St. Dominic’s Church is unique because the Baroque-style building, which opened its doors in 1587, was established by three Spanish Dominican priests from Acapulco, Mexico, before it was taken over by Portuguese disciples the next year.
6. Moorish Barracks
The Moorish Barracks is a neo-classical structure which was built in 1874 to accommodate a regiment of Muslim policemen who were brought over from Goa, India to reinforce Macao’s police force. While the name ‘Moor’ is a product of confusion, the architecture has an obvious Mughal influences.
7. St. Lawrence’s Church
Thanks to its location on the southern coastline of Macao, which overlooks the sea, the church was popular in the olden times among the families of sailors who were praying for their loved ones’ safe return. One of six UNESCO World Heritage churches, it is rich in ornate decorations and religious objects.
8. Taipa Houses–Museum
If you’re interested in seeing the local history of Macao, the former summer residence of wealthy Macanese will satisfy you. The pastel-coloured villas serve as a permanent display of Macanese lifestyle in the olden times, and it’s also a popular venue for many art exhibitions throughout the year.
9. Mandarin’s House
Built in the 19th century, the Mandarin’s House was the resident of Zheng Guanying, an influential theoretician and reformist. The features a fusion of traditional Chinese and Western architecture styles. Aside from the house itself, there’s also a museum on Zheng Guanying’s works.
10. A Ma Temple
While most of the buildings that we have on this list is heavily Portuguese-influenced, Macao has its fair share of Chinese heritage buildings as well. Built in 1488, A Ma temple is one of the oldest in Macao and is dedicated to Mazu, the goddess of the sea.
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