For small place, Macau is packed with important cultural and historical sights, including eight squares and 22 historic buildings, which have collectively been named the Historic Centre of Macau World Heritage Site by Unesco. Wandering through the squares, avenidas and nafrow alleys is easily the best way to see the sights and get a feel for what makes Macau unique.
At many sights seniors over 60 and children 11 or under are admitted free - just ask.
The Macau Museums Pass (adult/child under 18 & senior MOP$25/12) allows entry to a half-dozen of Macau's most important museums over
Central Macau Peninsula
Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro - called San Ma Lo (New St) in Cantonese - is the peninsula's main thoroughfare and home to the charming Largo do Senado , a swirling black-and-white tiled square surrounded by colonial buildings and close to several major sights. It's also a good place to refresh, with several cafes in Travessa de Sao Domingos .
CHURCH OF ST DOMINIC
At the end of the square, this 17th-century baroque church (Igreja de Sao Domingos; Map p566; Largo de Sao Domingos; S 8am-5pm) is arguably the most beautiful in Macau. It contains the Treasury of Sacred Art (Tresouro de Arte Sacra; Map p566), an Aladdin's cave of ecclesiastical art and liturgical plates exhibited aover three floors.
Meaning 'Loyal Senate', the Leal Senado ( 2857 2233; 163 Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro) looks over the Largo do Senado and is home to Macau's main municipal administrative body and the mayor's office. If you walk through, there is a relatively peaceful courtyard out the back. Inside, the IACM Gallery (9am-9pm Tue-Sun) has rotating exhibits, and the Senate Library (Map p566; -7pm Mon-Sat) houses an ex-tensive book collection and some wonderful carved wooden furnishings.
Built by the Jesuits between 1617 and 1626, Monte Fort (Fortaleza do Monte; Map p566) 6am-7pm May-Sep, 7am-6pm Oct-Apr) is accessible by escalator just east of the Church of St Paul. Barracks and storehouses were designed to allow the fort to survive a long siege, but the cannons were fired only once: during an aborted invasion by the Dutch in 1622.
Housed in the fort is the exceptional Macau Museum (Museu de Macau; Map p566; (s)2835 7911; www.macaumuseum.gov.mo; adult/child under 11 & senior MOP$15/8, free on 15th of month; S 10am-6pm Tue-Sun), with multimedia exhibits focusing on the history, traditions and culture of Macau. We think this is one of the best museums in Asia -don't miss it.
PAWNSHOP HERITAGE EXHIBITION
Housed in the former Tak Seng On (Virtue and Success) pawnshop built in 1917, the Pawnshop Heritage Exhibition (Espaco Patrimonial -Lima Casa de Penhores Traditional; 2892 1811; 396 Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro; admission MOP$5; S 10.30am-7pm, closed 1st Mon of month) incorpo-rates the fortress-like eight-storey granite tower with slotted windows where goods were stored on racks or in safes. Sharing the same building is the mildly interesting Cultural Club (Clube Cultural; 2892 1811; 390 Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro; 10.30am-8pm).
RUINS OF THE CHURCH OF ST PAUL
The facade and majestic stairway are all that remain of the Church of St Paul (Ruinas de Igreja de Sao Paulo; Rua de Sao Paulo), built in the early 17th century. However, with its wonderful statues, portals and engravings that effectively make up a 'sermon in stone', some consider it to be the greatest monument to Christianity in Asia.
The church was designed by an Italian Jesuit and built in 1602 by Japanese refu-gees who had fled their country after anti-Christian persecution in Nagasaki. After the expulsion of the Jesuits from Macau in 1762, a military battalion was stationed here. In 1835 a fire erupted in the kitchen of the barracks, destroying everything except what you still see today.
The small Museum of Sacred Art (Museu de Arte Sacra; Rua de Sao Paulo; 9am~6pm) behind the ruins contains polychrome carved wooden statues, silver chalices, monstrances and oil paintings. The adjoining crypt (cripta) contains the remains of Vietnamese and Japanese Christians martyred in the 17th century.
ST LAZARUS DISTRICT
The cobbled streets and historic houses of this district offer a little taste of the sleepy Macau of old. The highlight here is the Ox Warehouse (Armazem de Boi; rg 2853 0026; http://oxware house.blogspot.com; cnr Avenida Coronel Mesquita & Avenida do Almirante Lacerda; ® noon-7pm Wed-Mon), home to a group of avant-garde artists working in a variety of media. Also known as Old Ladies' House Art Space, it hosts installations and performances in the two exhibition halls. The lovely courtyard makes it a cheerful rest area amid densely populated northern Macau.
STREET OF HAPPINESS
Not far west of Largo do Senado is Rua da Felicidade (Street of Happiness; Map p566). Its red-shuttered terraces were once Macau's main red-light district. You might recognise it from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which has several scenes shot here. It's fun to just wander west from here towards the Inner Harbour.
Southern Macau Peninsula
A good way to get an overview of the riches on offer on the Macau mainland is to take in the south part of the peninsula by following the 90-minute 'Penha Peninsula' walk outlined in the tourist office's pamphlet Macau Walking Tours by Day and Night. From Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro follow Calcada do Tronco Velho to the Church of St Augustine (Igreja de Santo Agostinho; Largo de Santo Agostinho; £S 10am-6pm), built in 1814, and, just opposite, the Dom Pedro V Theatre (Teatro Dom Pedro; Calcada do Teatro), a colonnaded, 19th-century pastel-green building occasionally used for cultural performances. Next is the Church of St Lawrence (Igreja de Sao Lourenco; Map p566; Rua da Imprensa National; S 10am-6pm Tue-Sun, 1-2pm Mon) with its magnificent painted ceiling. One of the two towers of the church formerly served as an ecclesiastical prison. From the church, walk down Travessa do Padre Narciso to the pink Government House (Sede do Goberno; cnr Avenida da Praia Grande & Travessa do Padre Narciso), originally built for a Portuguese noble in 1849 and, for now, headquarters of the Macau SAR government.
The oldest section of Macau is a short distance southwest of here, via the beautiful waterfront promenade Avenida da Repiiblica . Along here are several colonial villas and civic buildings not open to the public. These include the residence of the
Partuauese consul-general ( Rua do Boa ,which was once the Hotel Bela Vista one of the most storied hotels in Asia, as well as a private mansion, secondary school and W"WII refugee shelter. Nearby is the ornate Santa Sancha Palace (Palacete de Santa Sancha; Map pp564-5; Estrada de Santa Sancha), once the residence of Macau's Portuguese governors.
Almost opposite the Maritime Museum and facing the Inner Harbour, the A-Ma Temple
(Templo de A-Ma; Rue de Sao Tiago da Barra; (S10am-6pm) was probably already standing when the Portuguese arrived, although the present one may only date to the 16th century. The temple is dedicated to A-Ma, better known as Tin Hau (see the boxed text, p563).
At 338m, this tower (Torre de Macau; 2893 3339; www.macautower.com.mo; Largo da Torre de Macau; S 10am-9pm Mon-Fri, 9am-9pm Sat & Sun) rises above the Macau Convention & Entertainment Centre on the narrow isthmus of land southeast of Avenida da Republica. You can ascend to the observation decks (adult/child 3-11 & senior MOPS80/40) on the 58th and 61st floors and eat at the revolving 360 Cafe, but apart from looking good the tower doesn't actually 'do' anything.
As a result, extreme-sports company AJ Hackett (rg 988 8656) has been allowed to organise adventure activities, including the relatively tame Skywalk (MOPS388) around an outdoo walkway - no rail, but you are attached to a lanyard - 233m above ground; the more adventurous Mast Climb (from MOPS888) up the mast's 100m of vertical ladders; and the Sky Jump (MOP$688), a 233m 'controlled descent' that's not a bungee.
The Maritime Museum (Museu Maritimo; 2859 5481; 1 Largo do Pagode da Barra; adult/child 10-17 Mon & Wed-Sat MOP$10/5, Sun MOP$5/3; 10am-5.30pm Wed-Mon) has interesting boats and artefacts from Macau's seafaring past, a mock-up of a Hakka fishing village and displays of the long narrow boats raced during the Dragon Boat Festival in June. It used to have access to the sea, but not anymore.
Nearer to the ferry terminal are two other museums. The vast Macau Museum of Art (Museu de Arte de Macau; 7919814; www.artmuseum .gov.mo; Macau Cultural Centre, Avenida Xian Xing Hai; adult/ student MOP$5/2, free Sun; S 10am-7pm Tue-Sun) houses visiting exhibits as well as permanent collec-tions of Chinese traditional art and paintings by Western artists who lived in Macau, such as George Chinnery .
The Grand Prix Museum (Museu do Grande Premio; 798 4108; basement, Tourist Activities Centre, 431 Rua de Luis Gonzaga Gomes; adult/child 11-18 MOP$10/5; 10am-6pm Wed-Mon) has cars and motorcycles from the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix and simulators in which you can test your racing skills.
Northern Macau Pensinsula
The northern peninsula sees fewer tourists and is thus quite a good area to just wan-der around, get lost and find yourself some hung yan bang (almond biscuits sprinkled with powdered sugar).
Macau has several gardens that make per-fect places to interrupt your wanderings. Among the best is cool and shady Lou Lim loc Garden (Jardim Lou Lim loc; Map pp564-5; 10 Estrada de Adolfo de Loureiro; P96am-9pm), with huge shade trees, lotus ponds, bamboo groves, grottoes and a bridge with nine turns (to escape from evil spirits who can only move in straight lines). Local people use the park to practise taichi or play traditional Chinese musical instruments.
Luis de Camoes Garden & Grotto (Jardim e Gruta de Luis de Camoes; 6am-9pm) is dedicated to the one-eyed poet Luis de Camoes (1524-80), who is said to have written part of his epic Os Lusiadas in Macau, though there is little evidence that he ever reached the city.
As the highest point on the Macau Peninsula, this fort (Fortaleza de Guia) affords panoramic views of the city and, when the air is clear, across to the islands and China. At the top you'll find a 15m-tall lighthouse, built in 1865 and the oldest on the China coast, and the quaint Chapel of Our Lady of Guia (Capela de Nossa Senora da Guia; 10am-5pm Tue-Sun), built in 1622.
You could walk up, but it's easier to take the Guia Cable Car (Teleferico da Guia; 1 way/return MOPS3/5; pj-; 8am-6pm Tue-Sun) that runs from the entrance to Flora Gardens (Jardim da Flora; Travessa do Tiinel; 7.30am-8.30pm), Macau's largest public park.
KUN LAM TEMPLE
Dating back four centuries, Kun lam Temple
(Templo de Kun lam; Avenida do Coronel Mesquita; 10am-6pm) is Macau's oldest and most interesting temple. The likeness of Kun lam, the Goddess of Mercy (see the boxed text, p325), is in the main hall; to the left of the altar and behind glass is a bearded statue believed to represent Marco Polo. The first treaty of trade and friendship between the
OLD PROTESTANT CEMETERY
As church law forbade the burial of non-Catholics on hallowed ground, this cemetery (Antigo Cemiterio Protestante; Map pp564-5; 15 Praca de Luis de Camoes; 5) 8.30am-5.30pm) was established in 1821 as the last resting place of (mostly Anglophone) Protestants. Among those interred here are Irish-born artist George Chinnery (1774-1852), who spent most of his adult life in Macau painting, and Robert Morrison (1782-1834), the first Protestant missionary to China and author of the first Chinese-English dictionary.
Connected to the Macau mainland by three bridges and joined together by an ever-growing area of reclaimed land called Cotai, Coloane and, to a lesser extent, Taipa are oases of calm and greenery, with striking, pastel-coloured colonial villas, quiet lanes, decent beaches and fine Portuguese and Macanese restaurants.
By contrast, the Cotai Strip is develop-ment central, with several recent mega-casinos sprouting up.
Traditionally an island of duck farms and boat yards, Taipa (Tarn Chai in Cantonese) is rapidly becoming urbanised and now boasts major hotels, a university, a racecourse and stadium, high-rise apartments and an air-port. But a parade of baroque churches and buildings, temples, overgrown esplanades and lethargic settlements mean it's still possible to experience the traditional charms of the island.
Taipa Village , in the north-central part of the island, is a window to the island's past. Here you'll find the stately Taipa House Museum (Casa Museum da Taipa; 2882 7103; Avenida da Praia; adult/student MOP$5/3, free Tue; 10am-6pm Tue-Sun), housed in five waterfront villas that give a sense of how the Macanese middle class lived in the early 20th century. Also in the village is the Church of Our Lady of Carmel (Igreja de Nossa Senhora de Carmo; Rue da Restauracao), built in 1885, and temples including Pali Tai Temple (Templo Pak Tai; Rua do Regedor). The village market is at the end of Rua do Regedor.
You can rent bicycles in Taipa Village from Mercearia Bicileta Alugar perhrMOPSIS); there's no English sign but it's next to the Don Quixote restaurant.
A haven for pirates until the start of the 20th century, Coloane (Lo Wan in Cantonese) is now. attractive for its sleepy main fishing village, sandy coastline, and atmospheric cafes and restaurants. It's also the only part of Macau that doesn't seem to be changing at a head-spinning rate, which can be a relief.
In Coloane Village the main at-traction is the Chapel of St Francis Xavier (Capela de Sao Francisco Xavier; Avenida de Cinco de Outubro; ®10am-8pm), built in 1928, and the delightful square in front. The square is home to a monument commemorating the final routing of pirates in 1910, and a couple of relaxed restaurants. The village has some interesting temples, including the Tam Kong Temple (Templo Tarn Kong; Map p571; Largo Tam Kong Miu) dedicated to the Taoist god of seafarers.
About 1.5km southeast of Coloane Village is Cheoc Van Beach (Bamboo Bay), where you can swim in the ocean or in the outdoor pool. Larger and more popular is HacSa Beach (Black Sand Beach) to the northeast.
Atop Alto de Coloane (170m), the 20m-high A-Ma Statue (Esta'tua da Deusa A-Ma; Estrada do Alto de Coloane) represents the goddess who gave Macau its name (see the boxed text, p563). Hewn from white jade quarried near Beijing, it stands beside the enormous Tian Hou Temple that forms the core of A-Ma Cultural Village , a religious complex that includes a vegetarian restaurant. A free shuttle runs from the ornamental gate on Estrada de Seac Pai Van every half-hour from 9am to 6pm.
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