Macau is situated in the far eastern fringes of Asia - it is a little slice of Portugal and very near to the city of Hong Kong. The unique location of this place has ensured a colorful and aesthetic blend of the Eastern and Western cultures. It is also a quaint place with amazing people and a peaceful, luxurious lifestyle and very different from the bustling crowds that you would find in Hong Kong. The place is also steeped in history and quite naturally the historic center in Macau is listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. All the major attractions of Macau are relatively closer to one another and you can easily travel from one spot to another on foot. You can come to this amazing place for a day tour from Hong Kong. However, if you really want to explore the place properly, it is better if you take 2-3 days on hand!
It is very easy to reach Macau through airways or roadways. The international airport in Macau is quite accessible. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Makau bridge has also made it so much easier to enter the place from Hong Kong. If you are looking for some adventure, you might even take the waterways and enter Macau via a high-speed ferry ride! Once you enter Macau, here are some of the most exciting things that you could be doing around here.
The St. Paul Ruins
The very first destination in Macau would be the ruins of the once-great St. Paul's Cathedral. The church is a magnificent structure and one can easily fathom the heights of its former glory just by looking at the ruins, indeed, it was once famed to be the finest building in the Far East! The Renaissance façade at the end of a flight of stairs crafted from granite still holds some semblance of its former glory.
The church was initially destroyed in 1601 by a fire but was then reconstructed and set up by 1637. When it was reconstructed, it was modeled on the Church of Gesu situated in Rome. It was then set up by the Christians who have been driven out of Japan and found refuge around this region. However, in 1835, the reconstructed church was again devastated and destroyed, this time by a typhoon. Nowadays, only the skeletal remains of its former glory stand tall and give curious visitors a glimmer into the grandeur it once was. Some of the most intriguing features about this church are the inscriptions on the archway to the church dedicated to the Mother of God, and certain figures of Jesuit saints.
If you are visiting the church, you just have to visit Travessa da Paixao just around the corner. It is a beautiful, narrow street with pink-hued buildings and a perfect spot to take a walk with a loved one. It is a very haunt for photographers as you could click some of the most stunning and dreamy photographs while on this street.
Senado Square or Senate Square is the likely starting point of your amazing visit to Macau. One of the most striking features of Senado Square is the old Senate building. It is now occupied by the Municipal Council and is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of the Portuguese style of architecture.
The building was initially constructed way back in 1784. The exquisite façade that inspires and awes so many tourists and visitors every day was added to this impressive building in 1870. Restoration work was undertaken to preserve the magnificence of this building and it was completed in 1940. The building houses a Council Chamber which is aesthetically very pleasing due to the rich paneling work made from wood. The Senate Library is also worth your time since it houses more than 50,000 manuscripts of a rare nature, some of which are even older than over 500 years.
Senado Square is a lovely place if you want to indulge in the essence of Macau and its people. It is the likely central part of the city and has everything that you could be asking for. Different shops, happy localites, restaurants, and cafes selling all kinds of Chinese as well as European food- you will find it all over here. You should especially try the many delicacies that the place has to offer. Another impressive building dating back to the 17th century around Senado Square is the St. Dominic’s Church.
Templo de A-Ma
Macau shows an interesting blend of the European as well as the Chinese cultures. Moving on from the amazing churches that Macau has to offer, here is a Buddhist temple that you just have to visit while you are in Macau. Built in 1488, the Templo de A-Ma or the A-Ma Temple is one of the most serene places in the entirety of Macau. In fact, the place was renamed based on the temple by the Portuguese a few decades after the construction of this temple. It is dedicated to the Buddhist goddess Matsu and is a segment of the UNESCO Historic Center in Macau.
The temple is one of the most religious places you will find in the entire city. There are 6 different sections within the temple. The Gate Pavillion, the Prayer Hall, the Memorial Arch, the Hall of Benevolence, the Zhengijao Chanlin, and the Hall of Guanyin are the different parts that you will be exploring while in the temple. The architecture is stunning and the fierce statuettes of lions look very life-like. The statue of the goddess has a built-in serenity that is sure to mesmerize you. There are many spots of shade to sit down doing nothing, and simply have a relaxing time within the temple premises. You will also get one of the most picturesque views of the bay from the temple grounds.
The Forte Monte or Fortazela do Monte is very near to A-Ma Temple and has a rich role in the history of China and Portugal. When it was constructed in 1626, it used to be the hub for Portugal's military in Macau. Later, it was the residence for the governor and hosted to be so till 1749. The old grandeur remains but the old ways have changed nowadays. The building serves as the three-story Macau Museum nowadays and holds terrific collections that will take you on a dreamland ride. The museum tells you the story of how the Chinese, the Portuguese, and the Macanese people came to co-exist peacefully through the amazing collection of archaeological and anthropological relics.
There are other notable attractions worth visiting while you are exploring through Forte Monte. The Mount Fortree Garden is one of the most beautiful locations that you could ever visit. It is exquisitely designed and has a welcoming appeal. The moat-shaped pond as well as the delicate flower beds offer a change from the everyday busy life that you have to go through. The Mansao Evocativa de Sun Yat-Sen is a Moorish-themed mansion built to commemorate Sun Yat-Sen who was the founder of the first-ever Chinese Republic. The Sun Yat-Sen Park is also related to the persona and features beautifully constructed gardens, an aviary, and also houses an elegant Victorian greenhouse.
The Maritime Museum
An interesting and unmissable place to visit while you are visiting the A-Ma Temple is the Maritime Museum or the Museu Maritimo de Macau. It is a terrific experience to browse through so many maritime relics from Macau's past. The museum displays an array of artifacts such as fishing equipment, models of ships that used to sail in the past, and other stuff that excellently tells you Macau's maritime history.
The museum also features instruments and artifacts that tell you the story of the development of both nautical as well as meteorological instruments. Numerous dioramas display important seafaring events for the city from the past. The front side of the museum called the Inner Harbour or the Porto Interior runs through the frontier between China and Macau. An extravagant Chinese dragon boat, restored to its former glory would welcome you into the Porto Interior. Other relics that you will find here are a flower boat, a sampan, and a fishing smack that was once used by refugees from Vietnam.
Doca dis Pescadores or the Macau Fisherman's Wharf is a nearby theme park that is also an interesting visit while in the area. Many rides in this theme park mimic the romantic aura of cities like Venice and Amsterdam. You will also find many different shops selling all kinds of souvenirs and restaurants and cafes excelling in European as well as Chinese delicacies.
Standing tall at 338m, the Macau Tower is one of the most noticeable structures in Macau. The Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Center is the center for telecommunications and broadcasting in the city. However, the tower also has a fun side to it- it features many entertainment options for visitors and tourists. One of the most impressive parts of the tower would be the observation deck from where you will get some of the most stunning and picturesque views of the entire city. There are also theatres and restaurants within the tower premises for you to have a great time around. You might even go on a shopping spree while you are visiting the tower. The Macau Tower Skywalk could be one of the most adventurous things that you ever do in your life. It covers the outer rim of the observation level and makes for a very enticing experience. For even more adventurous people the tower also allows you to go bungee jumping- at 233m, this is the highest bungee jumping experience you will have in the world.
Just a short distance away from the ferry terminal at Macau lies the elusive greeneries of Guia Fortress. You could either choose to hike your way up to the fortress or you might even go for a cable ride for convenience. A fortress is an amazing place! It being at a higher altitude than the rest of Macau ensures that you will get a terrific view of the entire city from the top. The fortress also has an impressive and gigantic lighthouse standing tall at 91m high. Sadly, entry into the lighthouse is prohibited! The grounds also have a very small chapel and impressive frescos that date back to the 1600s.
One of the most intriguing features of this splendid fortress is the underground network of tunnels- some of which are nearby to the lighthouse while others are near to the entryway to the cable car point. The fortress mainly holds a display of artifacts and photographs that details the military history of the surrounding regions.
Taipa Island is situated toward the southern part of Macau and is connected to the mainland by a spectacular high-arched bridge. Taipa Island could be a part of a day tour or you may even spend some more time within the island premises. In ancient times it used to be a post for vessels to pay customs duty to the Chinese. It is also the traditional spot where the fireworks factories are located, and there are also numerous Chinese shops as well as Portuguese buildings from the colonial era and a horse-riding track.
The Pak Tai Temple, established in 1844 is an attractive site because of the two life-sized guarding figures as well as the rich decoration. The Buddhist Shrine of the Four Faces is also an impressive site to visit. Tin Hau, established about 180 years ago, is among one of the best smaller temples on the island for you to visit.
The Cotai Strip in Taipa Island is part of modern-day Macau and is much like the Vegas Strip. This region is lined with casinos and reeks of a grand and luxurious lifetime. You should experience this at least once since this too is a part of the wonder of Macau. Since Macau itself is a small city, the Cotai Strip is not as extravagant as Vegas, and you can easily drop by all the casinos within a day.
If you are looking for a place to spend quality time with your family doing something satisfying and out of the ordinary, you could also visit the Giant Panda Pavilion in Cotai. Since it is somewhat off track, you can be sure to avoid the crowd while visiting this amazing place. The place houses a collection of giant pandas, red pandas, and a few species of monkeys. They are left out in the open and are most active around mornings when it is the easiest to spot them. They would again return at about 2:00 PM when it is feeding time. The park entry is free, however, you have to pay a nominal charge if you want to get to know the pandas.
Traveling farther away from the Taipa Islands you will find yourself on another terrific island in Macau called the Coloane Island. Coloane is an exquisite place with lush forest vegetation comprising of pines, eucalypti, tropical vegetation, as well as many farmlands. The island is also lined by sandy beaches giving you ample place to chill and hang out. The Hac Sa Beach is the most prominent among all the beaches that Coloane has to offer. The Cheoc Van Beach towards the southern side of the island is also worth a visit. Coloane Village has a unique mixture of Chinese culture interspersed with colonial buildings and is a quaint place to have a quiet time.
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