Macau has a rich heritage from both its Chinese and Portuguese past that includes many outstanding examples of western and oriental art and culture. Here you will find Chinese temples, catholic churches; ancient forts and other historical relics within a modern environment that bear testimony to a cultural blend of east and west.
Macau comprises the Macau Peninsula and the outlying islands of Taipa and Coloane. Popular sightseeing places that form part of a visitor's itinerary are spread all over the Peninsula.
The Central Part
Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, a main downtown thoroughfare in the southwestern part of the city, is called San Ma Lo (New Street) in Chinese by its residents. It stretches from Avenida da Praia Grande to the Inner Harbour, a distance of less than a mile. With the main square, Largo do Senado and several affiliated streets, this area is the most popular shopping and tourist part of the city.
This splendid square, Largo do Senado, with its wave-patterned pavement and central fountain is a highlight of the area. The surrounding simple, elegant Portuguese and baroque style buildings house many international branded clothes shops and restaurants. An exploration of the narrow alleyways that radiate from the square will open up to the visitor yet more fantastic places including curio markets, pharmacies, snack stalls and jewelry shops selling dazzling items.
The Monte Fort, one of the best-preserved forts in Macau can be seen from the main square and the Ruins of St. Paul's, standing close to the Fort, is a local landmark. A walk northward along St. Paul's Street leads to the facade of St. Paul's Church, which was devastated by fire in 1835, with its elegant reliefs that illustrate Bible stories. An underground tomb behind the ruins houses the remains of Catholic martyrs. The Museum of Macau, to the right of the ruins, should not be missed as it has an excellent exhibition of items telling much of the history of the city.
Ruins of St. Paul
Ruins of St. Paul's Church Facade Northwest of the St. Paul's Ruin, is Camoes Garden and Grotto, a memorial garden dedicated to Louis de Camoes, a famous Portuguese poet who lived four hundred years ago. It is a garden residence with a blend of both Chinese and Western architectural styles and has become a popular social meeting place for residents.
The Northern Part
In the eastern part of the city is Guia Hill, the highest point of Macau on which is perched Guia Fort and Guia Lighthouse. The Guia Fort built in 1637 is the second largest in the city and the Lighthouse was the first of its kind in the China's coastal area built in 1865. This highland offers a panoramic view of the city and seascapes. A promenade around the hill is an ideal place for relaxation and exercise popular with older residents and leads to Flora Garden. A cable car trail is also available for those who do not wish to walk.
Two blocks southwest of the Flora Garden is a memorial hall dedicated to Dr. Sun Yet-sen. The memorial hall was built by family members of Dr. Sun and the exhibits include a collection of documents, pictures and other historical records of this great man. Proceed a further two blocks to the south and turn right and you will find the entrance to Lou Lim Iok Garden, a famous garden that has been created in the style for which Suzhou is noted.
The Western Part
The 400-year colonial rule by the Portuguese has left Macau many baroque Roman Catholic churches dating from 18th century while the dominant Chinese population has brought traditional Chinese culture with its unique temple architectures. Both can be found in the western area between the Inner Harbor and Nam Van Lakes in the city.
Starting from Largo do Senado, the heart of downtown, and a walk in a southwesterly direction along the main street brings you to several Catholic churches. Notable among them is St Augustine's, St. Lawrence's, the Chapel of St. Joseph's Seminary and the Headquarters of the Macau SAR. These show much of the Catholic influence on the city. Some churches open to the public.
Situated at the base of Penha Peninsula is A-Ma Temple, built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The temple is dedicated to the sacred goddess A-Ma, which later was transliterated into 'Macau' by the Portuguese and so became the Portuguese name for Macau. Today this old-time temple is a symbol of the city and devout worshipers visit the temple to pray for good luck. Cross the A-Ma Street, you will reach the Maritime Museum in a building shaped like a boat, where you can learn more about the early days when Portuguese first time set foot here.
Southern Part - Outer Harbor
The southern part of the city near the Outer Harbor is a newly-developed area which is the result of reclamation from the sea. Tourist attractions in this area are devoted to modern things. The Art Museum houses fascinating exhibitions of Chinese traditional calligraphy, paintings, porcelain works and modern art works, the Grand Prix Museum and the Wine Museum are located here as well as the Macau Art Center, where ceremonial concerts and events are held.
The only traditional feature is the 20-meter high Kun Iam Statue, connected by a bridge to the waterfront, opposite the Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen. The 'lotus seat' is a two storey building housing an exhibition hall and a library dedicated to religious culture and resources with collections of religious books in Chinese, English, Portuguese and other languages.
The two outlying islands of Taipa and Coloane are easily accessible by the bridges that connect them to the Macau Peninsula. For travelers who plan to stay for several days, the outlying islands are good choice for a short break away from the bustling city.
Taipa, connected to the Macau Peninsula by the Macau-Taipa Bridge and Friendship Bridge, is where the city's airport is located. The largest casino venue in the city - Jockey Club's horse racing - is the most exciting thing for the local. Five-star hotels offer luxurious amenities and extravagant casinos to gamblers. University of Macau is also located on this island.
A must for travelers is the Taipa Houses Museum. The 'museum' is actually a collection of Portuguese houses featuring both Portuguese and Chinese furniture. It provides tourists with an opportunity to learn about the fashionable lifestyle of Portuguese celebrities. Exhibitions of folk clothing, handcrafts and vicissitude of the Portuguese colonialists are presented here.
The island of Coloane boasts that it is a paradise for people who like a tranquil environment and wish to have a break from the bustling city life. The Hac Sa Bay (Black Sand Bay) is one of Macau's well-known seaside bathing places. North of the Bay is a luxury hotel with golf-courses. Another popular seaside venue is Bamboo Bay to the south of the island, which offers windsurfing and horse racing for sports lovers.
Tam Kung Miu, a temple dedicated to Tam Kung, a Taoist god of seafarers is situated in the town. A delicately decorated whalebone dragon boat in the temple means it is worthy of a visit. The Museum of Nature & Agriculture has a collection of documents and exhibitions regarding the local fauna and flora as well as the geographical nature of the outlying islands. A collection of agricultural implements and artifacts such as mill wheels and other items used in milling illustrate the methods used by those who in the past were engaged in farming in this region.
What's more, here are other impressive scenic spots in Macau which are recommended to you if you have more time to stay in this city. Kun Iam Temple is the most impressive one of the three most famous temples in the city. It is also known as a history witness of the signing of the first Sino-America treaty in 1844. Lin Fung Temple is well-known for the national hero, Lin Zexu who enacted the complete campaign against opium. Sun Yat-Sen Park, one of the forty-three Sun Yat-Sen Parks in the world, was built in 1987 for the friendship between China and Portugal. The Historic Centre of Macao provides a particular proof of the exchange of architecture and religion.