Tourist Attractions in Macao

For: Local Storm Media, Inc.
This place also has an English spelling that is slightly different: Macao. Until the dawn of the new millennium, this place was a territory of Portugal. This country tops the list of the world’s most densely populated. Macau is renowned throughout Asia as it’s largest gambling hot-spot. It’s casinos bring in more cash than it’s American counterpart; Las Vegas. An original European colony in Asia, Macau is still home to many Portuguese people, althugh native Chinese residents dominate the population. You would almost believe it is Europe itself if it wasn’t for all the signs bearing Chinese symbols, and the streets were absent of Chinese people speaking Mandarin. Travelers will notice that it looks even more Colonial than Hong Kong. The vital history of nearly five centuries of co-existence boasts a cultural and architectural melting pot of Portuguese and Chinese families. Sites like Plaza Senado, the Ruins of St. Paul’s, and scenic locations like Taipa and Coloane show tourists that the port of Macau has long been a trophy, signifying the triumph of human cooperation and brotherhood.

The Ruins of St. Paul’s

Also called Sam Ba Sing Tzik, the leading façade and also the grand stone stairs, sadly, are  the only remains of the finest church in Macau. First constructed in 1580, St. Paul’s Church ignited in a firey blaze twice -once in 1595 and again in 1601. However, reconstruction began immediately after each fire.By 1637, the church had become the biggest Catholic Church in East Asia in those days. A violent typhoon hit Macau in 1835, and another fire in 1837, caused St. Pauls to finally leave behind its former glory. The dwelling has five tiers. The very first tier is composed of ten iconic columns with three entrances. The doorway in the centre has ‘MATER DEI’ carved in it. The 2nd tier features ten Corinthian columns with three windows. A different Catholic saint is enshrined in all of four tabernacles between columns. Together the two represent the Society of Jesus as well as the activities of early Portuguese missionaries to the Chinese Lands. The statue of Madonna stands in the center of the 3rd tier, as the statue of Jesus stands about the fourth teir.The walls are engrossed in “bas-reliefs.” This is a French term for a sculpture technique in which figures and other design elements are just barely prominent over the background of the artwork. These are found throughout the building in the form of  angels, devils, and depitions of the of crucifixion of Jesus Christ. You can even pick out of the phantasmagoria a Portuguese sailing ship. You will see great, sculpted stone that is distinctively Asian artwork. There’s also bas-reliefs representing chrysanthemum and cherry, with Chinese inscriptions. The surviving façade is an ideal fusion of Western and Eastern culture. The Ruins of St. Paul’s continued to be restored from 1990 to 1995. Located at the bottom of the inner area, The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypts has marvelous exhibitions of some of the Catholic religion’s most unique artworks.

The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypts

The Museum of Sacred Art, with the Crypt, embodies the rich and vivid reputation of the missions in this area of China, whose main hub was the College of St. Paul. The Museum of Sacred Art isn’t a conventional museum, in which the entrance is easily located. Don’t let yourself be deceived by the abundance of open space behind the Ruins of St. Paul, because entering the Museum of Sacred Art with it’s Martyr’s Crypt, you need to descend a virtually hidden flight of stairs. If you have paid a visit to the Ruins of St. Paul then you must be sure to visit the Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt. It’s free!

When arriving at the bottom of the staircas, it’s “travelers choice” which site to see first, the Museum or the Crypt. A right will take you to the Museum of Sacred Art, a left – and you are in the Crypt. The bones of ancient Japanese and Vietnamese Martyrs are exhibited within the walls of the Crypt interred inside glass cases. Commemorating the bravery of those Japanese and Vietnamese Martyrs, and honoring their memory, an ambiance of silent reverance is maintained. The entire Crypt is extremely solemn and quiet. For many, the silence is eerie, particularly with all of the remains from the dead martyrs. Some may find it creepy, while for other people, the atmosphere within the Crypt invites visitors to begin meditation and prayer. Away from Crypt, a listing are available which lists the specific martyrs.

The Museum of Sacred Art, includes valuable objects from a historical and artistic perspective. Some tems and religious relics located within the Museum of Sacred Art are over 500 years old.
Tourists can see oil paintings, figurines, and a gorgeous assortment of Sino-Portuguese crucifixes carved out of ivory, exotic wood, and silver and be simply amazed. There’s also a many liturgical vessels wrought from silver: chalices, incense boats, patens, pyxes and reliquaries from centuries past. The religious statues and sacred paintings, most of them also  in Indo-Portuguese style, are a sight to see.

The painting of St. Michael Archangel done in the 17th century is among the most venerated pieces of art held in the collection of the Museum of Sacred Art. Painted by Japanese disciple of Jesuit missionary Giovanni Nicollo, this painting is essential. Noteworthy, not just due to the antiquity and imposing design but more so because it’s the only work from the ancient college that survived the fires the church. After visiting the Ruins of St. Paul, and engaging in typical tourist activities, like talking pictures, take advantage of this great spot to meditate, and also to take some time to keep in mind those who sacrificed their lives so Macau can be all that it is today.

A-Ma TempleThis sacred structure not only contains a historical vibe of rich Chinese tradition, but serves as an epicenter of ancient Buddhist custom. It really is well worth visiting, no matter what a tourist’s religious affiliation. Annually, about the time of the birthday celebration honoring Mazu, coinciding with the Chinese New Year, many men and women followers collect right here. These worshipers burn up a lot of incense, not only to show reverence to a higher power, but also in hopes of a big bundle of money!  A-Ma Temple, found in the south east of the Macau Peninsula, remains the most ancient center for Buddhism in Macau. Built in 1488 by the Ming Empire, a dynasty that spanned a period of time between 1368 and 1644, it served to memorialize Mazu, goddess and protector of fisherman that work the waters of Macau. Also referred to as Lin Mo, she originated from inside Putian Town, Fujian Land. She can foresee good luck as well as misfortune, and is summoned often to advise on fishing trips, and ensure the safety of fisherman. There are many tales in Macau folklore about how this goddess has done just that!

A-Ma Temple can be considered the reason this part of the world gained the name it carries to this day. It was an accident of misinterpretation. When the original  Portuguese explorers asked the Natives what they called the land that they inhabited, they were standing in front of this Temple. Not surprisingly, the language barrier caused the land’s inhabitants to assume the Portuguese men were asking for the name of the Temple, hovering over the scene. They answered with what sounded to these discoverers to be “Ma-Ge.” And so it was inscribed by cartographers on ancient maps, and remains to this day, so named on the newest ones.

Senado Square (Largo do Senado)

This is the largest public square in Macau. It is centrally located on the Macau Peninsula. Praça do Centro Cultural, Praça do Lago Sai Van and Praça do Tap Seac remain as the other three large and popular squares in Macau. In the early 1990s, some Portuguese contractors to pave the square with a colored stones, laid out in a wavy pattern. Portuguese stone cutters and masons are some of the most talented in the entire world. From that time, until now, Senado Square has become very popular for cultural celebrations in Macau. The buildings around the Square have a long, proud history many of them designed with western attributes. They have been well protected, and regulations stand that forbid any owners from altering the facades of these buildings.

There are shopping centers placed throughout the square mixed in with plenty of Chinese. A visitor can find clothes, gadgets, trinkets and famous edible treats all within a very scenic locale. Firework displays are common, along with lion and dragon dances. These are typically held on occasions like Christmas and the  Chinese Spring Festival. Be sure to head down to Senado Square to make yourself a part of these festivities!

Macau Tower

When you have the opportunity to visit Macau, make sure you visit Macau Tower, an essential landmark of Macau. Its design is the creative work of  Gordon Moller, a famous architect of New Zealand. The tower was the eighth highest tower in Asia and also the tenth on Earth at the time of its completion in December of 2000. Macau Tower is a proud member of World Federation of Great Towers. It’s this kind of charming place that attracts millions of individuals to visit every year. Macau Tower vaults 1,108 above the ground. The greatest observation level is the Outdoor Observation Deck on Level 61, at a height of 732 feet. Walking on the Observation Deck, is only for brave “skywalkers”-NO handrail provided! You will have a panoramic view Macau sprawled out before your eyes. Take a look at the Peal River Delta, Macau Peninsula and Taipa, Coloane islands. The Observation Lounge is on Level 58. This is a fascinating spot will treat you to daily  sunsets — or observe the spectacular night-view of Macau, with its shimmering lights and moon-lit landscape. Looking down, you will see the East and west Mangyang Hill, Casino Lisboa and also the outlying island of Hong Kong.

 Museum of Macau

Distinctive from other museums in Macau, the Museum of Macau was created to show the possible reality of various nationalities living together harmoniously in Macau, over many centuries. Tradition, custom and culture is preserved for centuries to come in this building that reflects the proud history of the Potuguese peoples’ long and peaceful association with the people of this Penninsula. The Museum of Macau remains the biggest museum in Macau. It’s based in the famous Monte Fortress, in the middle of town. This is the same location where early  Portuguese explorers first came ashore. Construction of the museum, began in 1996 and was completed on April 18th of 1998. The Macau Museum includes an exhibit building in Monte Fortress as well as an administration building.

Monte Fortress

Located Due East from the ruins of St. Paul’s, here you have the oldest fort in Macau. Built in 1616, it originally belonged to St. Paul’s Church and was utilized to guard the church against pirate attacks. It later became solely a military fort. The fort is quadrilateral with bastions on each and every corner contributing to 100 meters (328 feet) of circumference. Barracks for housing defenders, and water storage cisterns and storehouses for provisions to last the longest battles and seiges were the key buildings constructed within the fort. A historical tower, this fort was one of the many residences of religious ministries such as the Society of Jesus, a.k.a. The Jesuits. With cannons around the four sides, the fort was strongly fortified. Although the cannons have foregone their military function, they still remain as a relic of the fort’s proud history.

In 1838, a fire destroyed the fort buildings along with the Jesuit College and St. Paul’s Church. In 1965, a single-storey barracks of the fort was allotted a new purpose for the  Macau Meteorological Bureau. To the right a historical bell created by a specialist in casting cannons hangs silently waiting for the next special occasion to be rang. In 1998, the Macau Museum was established here, detailing and preserving the customs of Macau citizens of yesterday. The landscape around the fort is very charming. Located towards the East from the ruins of St. Paul’s, and built in 1616, it originally belonged to St. Paul’s Church and was adopted to guard the church in the pirates. It later became solely a military fort.


2 responses to “Tourist Attractions in Macao

  1. Pingback: Tourist Attractions in Tokyo, Japan | Bangari Content Gallery

  2. Pingback: Ruins of St. Paul’s, Macau « PinayTravelMom

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