A Must See: The Historic Centre of Macau – Travel Guide

Exploring the Historic Centre is one of the top things to do in Macau and the cities number one tourist attraction also being inscribed on the World Heritage List. It’s a collection of buildings and temples that reflect the history of Macau, in particular, the history of east meets west, with most of the buildings reflecting the city’s Portuguese past.

The attractions are spread out around the south-west side of Macau Island, and the easiest way to take all this in is to get a Macau World Heritage brochure or a What’s on Macau map, which most hotels seem to have, and follow the walking route.

A-Ma Temple – Get there when the tour buses arrive and enjoy the crowd!
Moorish Barracks

You could race through the walk in a couple of hours particularly if you are prepared to skip a few, but you could also just as easily spend a relaxing day wandering and sight-seeing. Myself, I started at the A-Ma Temple and ended at the Ruins of St Pauls Church.

St Lawrences Church

The Senado Square area is quite popular and also features plenty of places to eat and shop. It’s also at the central area of all the sights.

Dom Pedro V Theatre

The major drawcard of the heritage area is the Ruins of St. Pauls Church, Mount Fortress and Senado Square.

Senado Square
St Dominics Church
Ruins of St Pauls – the rest of church was lost in a fire back in the 1800’s
Mount Fortress – hmmm, the purpose of this canon is?

Key Attractions

The list of famous buildings and attractions in the Historic Centre of Macau include

  • A-Ma Temple – Built in 1488, the temple is dedicated to Matsu, the goddess of seafarers and fishermen.
  • Moorish Barracks – The barracks was built in August 1874 to accommodate a regiment from Goa, Portuguese India. It was designed by an Italian architect.
  • Lilau Square – Near A- Ma temple, it is a small public square featuring two Banyan trees.
  • Mandarins House – It was the residence and family home of the late Qing theoretician and reformist Zheng Guanying (1842-1921).
  • St Lawrence’s Church – It was first built approximately during 1558 and 1560 in memory of St. Lawrence, who is regarded by Portuguese as a patron saint in navigation.
  • St Joesphs Church – The seminary was established in 1728 and, following the end of the Jesuits’ mission, was taken over by the Lazarites. The church was erected in 1758.
  • Dom Pedro V Theatre – The theatre was built in 1860 by local Portuguese to commemorate their reigning king, Peter V. It used to be a regular meeting place for the Portuguese and Macanese people living in Macau.
  • Sir Robert Ho Tung Library – The building was constructed before 1894 and was owned by Dona Carolina Cunha. Later the mansion was purchased by Hong Kong businessman Sir Robert Ho Tung in 1918 as a retreat and he lived there between 1941 and 1945.
  • St Augustines Church – It was constructed in 1586 by Spanish Augustine priests.
  • Leal Senado Building – Built in 1784 by the Portuguese.
  • Senado Square – a beautiful paved town square that connects many of the iconic buildings. It was redeveloped in the 1990’s to what we see today.
  • Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple – Chinese Guan Yu temple.
  • Holy House of Mercy – It was built 1569 as a medical clinic
  • Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady – Originally built in 1623 it was later replaced in 1850 and rebuilt in 1937 with the stone building we see today.
  • Lou Kau Mansion – The building was built around 1889 as a home of Lou Kau, a prominent Chinese merchant.
  • St Dominics Church – Built in 1587 and established by three Spanish Dominican priests.
  • Ruins of St Pauls – Built from 1602 to 1640 by the Jesuits, the church was one of the largest Catholic churches in Asia until it was mostly lost to fire in 1835.
  • Na Cha Temple – A Chinese folk temple that dates back to 1888.
  • Old City Walls – Constructed under Chinese rule in the late 1500’s
  • Monte Forte – The fort was built between 1617 and 1626 on the 52 metres tall Mount Hill, located directly east of the Ruins of St. Paul’s.
  • St Anthonys Church – originally built in 1560 it was reconstructed several times and what we see today is the 1930’s iteration built from stone.
  • Casa Garden – Built in 1770, the park was originally the residence of a wealthy Portuguese merchant Manuel Pereira.
  • Protestant Cemetery – Established in 1821 by the British.
  • Gui Fortress – a 17th-century colonial military fort, chapel, and lighthouse complex.

Historic Centre Map and Walking route

Click for larger image


My Favorite Places to Stay in Macau

  • Harbourview Hotel Macau – Four-star with a very convenient location and affordable rates
  • Hotel Guia – Three-star offering clean modern rooms in a good location, a great restaurant, and walking distance to some key attractions.
  • The Parisian Macao – Five-star, if you want to splurge it doesn’t get much better, offering a true luxury getaway experience and a French theme to boot.