Through the years, Macao has established itself as a haven for heritage, spellbinding glitz and for being a cultural melting pot, full of charm.
Being a former Portuguese colony for more than three centuries, the Chinese special administrative region now boasts a colourful integration of cultures. Its architecture, art, religions, traditions, food and community reflect the integration of Chinese, Western and Portuguese influences.
Over 90% of Macao residents are ethnic Chinese. The remainder includes Portuguese, Filipino and other nationalities. And while Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages, Cantonese is widely spoken in the bustling streets. English is the common medium in trade and tourism.
Macao is located in Guangdong province, on the western bank of the Pearl River Delta. It’s connected to Gongbei District by the Border Gate (Portasdo Cerco) isthmus.
The region comprised the Macao Peninsula, Taipa, Coloane and the reclaimed Cotai area. Three bridges connect Macao to Taipa.
In 2005, The Historic Centre of Macao was inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List. The best place to experience the city’s spectacular heritage is the historic district.
The most treasured icon is, of course, the Ruins of St Paul’s Church. But be sure to make the Guia Fortress one of your stops here, too. Built between 1622 and 1638, the fortress contains the Guia Chapel, originally established by Clarist nuns, who resided there before establishing the Convent of St Clare. Meanwhile, the Guia Lighthouse, dating from 1865, is the first modern lighthouse on the Chinese coast.
Another highlight is Mount Fortress, which warrants a visit due to its status as the city’s principal military defence structure in the past.
Also not to be missed is the Holy House of Mercy. Established by the first Bishop of Macao in 1569, this institution was modelled after one of the most prominent and oldest charitable organisations in Portugal.
For a reminder of the city’s glorious culture, the Dom Pedro V Theatre is the place to be. Built in 1860 as the first Western-style theatre in China, it’s a highly significant cultural landmark and remains a venue for important public events and celebrations.