Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005, the Historic Centre of Macau comprises a zone of culturally significant buildings scattered in the southwestern corner of the Macau peninsula. Easily enjoyed as a half-day or full-day walking tour, the Historic Centre of Macau primarily focuses on the fusion of Portuguese colonialism with traditional Chinese cultural heritage. As an important Far East trading port, Macau has one of the longest-standing histories of European influence found anywhere on the Asian continent. For over 400 years two distinctly different cultures coexisted on a tiny strip of land. During this time both the Chinese as well as Portuguese residents crafted temples, forts, public squares and traditional works of architecture that create what is now the best example of European influence found anywhere on the Asian continent.
Popular stops in the Historic Centre include the 15th century A-Ma Temple, where devotees of this Goddess of seafaring come to burn incense and pray for safe passage. You may also want to climb atop the old walls of Monte Fort where cannons which once defended against invading Dutch sailors now point towards glitzy casinos. Down on the street level the classic, pastel façades of Portuguese buildings give areas such as Senado Square and the Church of St. Dominic a fairytale appearance. Other stops like the Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral show that history isn’t always kind, in that even the grandest of buildings are still susceptible to fire and disaster.
The Macau Historic Centre is easily Macau’s most popular visitor destination (that isn’t a gaming venue), and a stroll through the area is literally a walk through history that is unlike any other in the world.