Macau: Historical Gem Along the Chinese Coast

Macau: Historical Gem Along the Chinese Coast

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Macau: Historical Gem Along the Chinese Coast

Facing South China Sea and lying 65 km west of Hong Kong lies Macau, the first and last European stronghold in Asia. Now one of China's special administrative region, Macau is a city of duality where Portuguese heritage intermixed with Chinese culture, manifested in the number of historical sites dotting across the region. The region's Portuguese past and proximity to its Chinese roots thrive amidst the gambling-fueled economic boom – a prime factor that sparked Macau's tourism industry.

Casinos could be generating revenues for Macau's economy, but the historical sites draw in the crowds. Throngs of visitors (most of them arriving from Hong Kong and mainland China) come to shop, dine and view the region's fantastic sights. If they can spare more time and bucks, they go bungee-jumping off the Macau Tower or play in the casinos. However, there is no denying that history and heritage, not gambling, are ones that make visitors feel awe.

Reaching Macau

To get into Macau from Hong Kong, you can directly board a ferry and bypass immigration at the International Airport or else board at the Macau Ferry Terminal (in Hong Kong Island) or the China (HK) Ferry terminal (Kowloon). By air travel, the region is easily accessible from many cities in South East and Far East Asia. After touchdown, you need to board the Bus AP1 to take you to the Barrier Gate, and from there, you take a taxi to reach the city.

Some Sites to See

Macau is just one-third the size of Hong Kong, and to get the most of the place, you should get around on foot so you will not miss out all the great things. If walking is not your thing, you can rent a scooter (if you can drive and have your driving license with you).

If you are new to Macau, visit the heritage sites to get your introduction on the Portuguese side of the region. No trip is complete without having to visit the popular Ruins of St. Paul's, the remnant of a Portuguese cathedral built between 1582 and 1602 and destroyed by fire in 1835, when Macau was already declining in importance. The picturesque Ruins, marked by the remaining southern facade, stands on a small hill, with a steel stairway leading up to it. Overlooking the Ruins is the Fortaleza do Monte, a former Portuguese military center and just one of the noteworthy heritage sites to visit.

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Macau has lots of museums to whet your interest on its Portuguese past. If you love museums, then you should not forget to visit the Taipa Houses Museum. The museum features a set of restored colonial houses that echo the style of affluent Portuguese families in the 1920's. Go back through time and imagine how colonial life is back then.

You can view more heritage attractions at the Senado Square. Walk through the square and catch view of the Leal Senado Building (seat of the colonial government) and the baroque St. Dominic's Church (the oldest church in Macau), among others.

To get a taste of Chinese culture, why not visit the A-Ma Temple and Na Tcha Temple? The A-Ma Temple was built in 1488 and dedicated to Matsu, the Chinese goddess of the sea. The Na Tcha Temple, built in 1888 and located behind the Ruins, is dedicated to the child god of war, whose name the temple bears. Temples in the city pay homage to the inhabitants' Buddhist and Taoist religiosity.

Macau could be small and compact, but it does not take a day to examine closely all its historical sites. You would really want to come back because you are in awe and cannot get enough of Macau's historical wonders. You should really come back.
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