5 must-sees in Macau
Bem-vindo in the Asian Las Vegas! At the crossroads of cultures, Macau is a city with two faces. Marked by 400 years of Portuguese occupation, its historical center looks like Lisbon at the end of the world. The last European colony in Asia, handed back in 1999, is nevertheless typically Chinese. The city harmoniously combines traditional temples and modern glass towers dedicated to the pleasures of gambling. Follow the guide and discover five must-see places to visit in Macau.
The former Senate Square is the perfect starting point to discover one of the best preserved historical centers in China. This vast pedestrian heart with its mosaic-paved floor is full of architectural jewels inherited from the former Portuguese settlers. The best way to enjoy the atmosphere of the district is to stroll around and discover the baroque facade of the São Domingo church, or the stalls of an egg tart seller.
To enjoy a panoramic view of the colorful buildings surrounding the Largo do Senado square, head for the historic Leal Senado building. The former seat of government is open to visitors free of charge and has a lovely garden lined with azulejos.
The ruins of Saint Paul
Of the first church of Macau, only ruins remain. However, a visit to Macau is incomplete without contemplating the remains of St. Paul. The construction of the church of the Mother of God dates from the beginning of the 17th century. The Jesuits added a university to it, before the whole was ravaged by fire in 1835. Since then, only the façade still stands at the top of a long flight of stairs.
If the largest Catholic church in the East disappeared in the flames, it continues to attract tourists from around the world. The ruins of St. Paul’s are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is the historic center of Macau. These remains have become the emblem of the city, and probably its most photogenic tourist attraction. For a magical experience, be sure to go there after dark.
Perched on top of a hill, the Monte Fort is an ancient fortress built in the 17th century. This strategic defense post was used to counter the repeated assaults of the Dutch, before being converted into a military zone. The fort now houses the Macau Museum, dedicated to the history and cultural heritage of the city.
It is also a pleasant place to walk around, dotted with ancient cannons. Above all, the fortress offers a breathtaking view of the city. Behind its high walls, you can contemplate a landscape that looks like a cyberpunk setting. On the horizon, futuristic skyscrapers overlook traditional houses at the crossroads of East and West.
The Las Vegas of the East
Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual gambler, a trip to the casino is a must in Macau. While gambling is banned in China, the Las Vegas of the East is the exception that proves the rule.
Macau has about 30 casinos, generating revenues nearly four times higher than its American equivalent. Its gambling houses stand out for their extravagant architecture, such as the gleaming Casino Lisboa.
Other casinos are exact replicas of iconic American gambling houses, such as the Venetian Macau. With its 39 floors, the establishment claims to be the largest casino in the world.
However, the rise of online casinos and their ever-changing offerings is not to be taken lightly. The world’s largest gambling empire is now on the internet.
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The temple of A-Ma
After the roulette, let’s go to the A-Ma temple, the oldest temple in the city, for some spirituality. It is located in the south of the peninsula, a few steps from the port.
The site is dedicated to the sea goddess A-Ma, to whom the city owes its name. The Portuguese took the name of Macau from the bay named A Ma Gok when they landed there.
The numerous pavilions of the temple illustrate the diversity of Macanese beliefs, operating a successful syncretism between Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist traditions. The shrine is particularly popular during the festivities of the birth of A-Ma, celebrated in April.
Macau is a surprising mix between Chinese atmosphere and Portuguese heritage. By road or by sea, it is the perfect excursion from Hong Kong. Macau can also be worth an extended discovery, in order to alternate tourist visits and casino tours. As an alternative to your stay, enjoy a taste of Macau’s casinos with the best free online slot machines.