Portuguese heritage

Macao

To see Portuguese heritage, in Macau, became World Heritage for UNESCO. 

Many buildings are classified, but Portugal is present everywhere, even in the common buildings, pavements or small details. 

I think, those are the most difficult things to preserve

Governor’s Palace 

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The residence of the former Portuguese governor became in 1999 the official residence to the President of Regional Government. 

No visible transformations were made, and the Portuguese colonial look is clear.

Ruins of St. Paul ​

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I couldn’t understand why the remains of a ruined church became the image of Macao! There are several wonderful examples of Portuguese architecture, at least so interesting as that façade. Well… that’s the way it is. We were there, with hundreds moved around it all the time. The rain didn’t spoil much because the visit should always be quick. 

Built in the 16th century, it was the biggest cathedral in the east, sometimes called “eastern Vatican”. Burnt in 1835, only the façade escaped from destruction, some people believing that it was a miracle.

Mixing European, Chinese and Japanese details, it is, today, UNESCO heritage.

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“Backstage” scenes Ruins of St. Paul

I felt forced to look again to the façade, and to see all the devices built to support it. Of course they are indispensable, but that look makes us feel like in the back of a scenery, artificially mounted.

Maybe they should close the access to the rear of the facade, or treat (hide) visually the supports with complementary elements like paintings/descriptions of the original cathedral or its contents. The way it is now is ugly and sad.

​Portuguese consulate

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One of the best examples of Portuguese colonial architecture, the old St. Raphael hospital is now one of the biggest Portuguese diplomatic representations in the world. 

Its actual look comes from a reconstruction made in 1939.

Cathedral

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A small wooden shrine from the 17Th century, was hundred years later transformed in a stone church, once again replaced by the actual building, in 1937.

Discreet in the city, it has a beautiful decoration and it is one of the classified monuments that make Macao human heritage for UNESCO. 

S. Domingos church

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St. Dominic’s Church, in Senado square, dates from the early 17th century.  It has an imposing facade of cream-colored ​atone with white stucco moldings and green-shuttled windows. Inside, white pillars support a flat ceiling and apron balconies trim the walls.

The great baroque altar contains a cream and white statue of the Virgin and Child and a painting of Christ. The church has a fine collection of exquisitely-carved ivory and wood saints.

St. Dominic’s Church has a violently dramatic past. In 1644 a military officer who supported the Spanish against the Portuguese was murdered at the alter during Mass. In 1707 the Dominicans sided with the Pope against Macau’s bishop in the Rites Controversy.

When local soldiers tried to enforce an excommunication order on them, the friars locked themselves in the church for three days and pelted the soldiers with stones. In 1834 the monastic orders were suppressed and for a time the church was used by the government as barracks, stable and public works office. St. Dominic’s Church was renovated in 1997 and opened to the public with a museum, on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor. The museum shows paintings, sculptures and liturgical ornaments that illustrate the history of the Roman Catholic church in Asia.

​Military Club

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Built in 1870 as the gathering point to Portuguese officers in the colony, this beautiful colonial building is now recognized by its restaurant. A few years before the end of Portuguese administration, the club was partially open to civilians, and the restaurant became famous. 

Located near Lisboa casino, is classical image contrasts with the blooming view of big and modern casinos popping everywhere.

When we were there we didn’t know that the restaurant was open, and that its quality justified the reasonable price that is charged. We went elsewhere, without complaints, but, knowing what I do know now, this should have been our restaurant. 

See the importance of a good preparation for each trip?

​S. Francisco fort

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I don’t remember where I read that:

“Built 1629 on the site of a battery which sank one of the warships’ The Golias’ of the Dutch invaders, the original fortress of S. Francisco stood at the end of old Praia Grande, facing the Taipa channel. Its armaments included a culverin, which could fire 35-pound iron shots a distance of one and a half miles (the width of the channel). Little more is known of the original fort or the convent of S. Francisco, which was attached to it.

Both fort and convent were demolished to make way for new barracks in 1864, to house the Battalion of the First Line, brought in as defense against a Chinese attack which never came. The barracks survive today as headquarters for the Security Forces and sections of the Police Force. They present an attractive, colonial façade of pink-washed stone with white trim. Inside are offices and meeting rooms around a flag-stoned courtyard, in the spacious lobby are display cases filled with old prints and pictures of the previous fort and convent, a collection of old weapons and other.”

More than history, in the back of the Military Club, our attention is dragged by… the tree coming from the wall. But, for that, I couldn’t find any story, till now!

Chapel of our Lady of Penha ​

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The best sightseeing point of Macao before the construction of TV tower was Penha hill, occupied with a chapel built in 1867 in place of a former chapel from the 17th century.

​Nearby there’s a replica of Lourdes cave, and an image of the holy Virgin.

Guia Fort ​

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Guia, one of Macao’s hills, is topped by a fortress with two important Portuguese constructions – the lighthouse and a chapel.

​The lighthouse was one of the first to be built in eastern world, in 1622, but the actual one is the result of a reconstruction in 1864.

The chapel was built also in 1622, and it is a modest construction where recently where discovered some frescoes.

Mount Fortress – Fortaleza do Monte

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Mount Fortress, built in 1617-26, occupies a hilltop to the east of St. Paul’ s ruins, and at easy walking distance from it. Jesuits built it as part of a complex which also included the college and church of St. Paul’ s. 

The canons were used only once, when the Dutch invaded Macau in 1622. This was also the first residence of the governors of Macau. 

Over the following decades trees grew from the platform of the fort, which was transformed into a public park where residents and visitors came to enjoy the views. The only building was an office of the Meteorological Department until 1998 when the three-level Macau Museum, focusing on the history of Macau, was built into the fortress hill.

Oriente foundation 

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In Portugal “Oriente Foundation” is a synonymous of… money. I don’t know if it is fair, I don’t know where does the money com from or where does it go. 

I know that I stood at the door (don’t know if visiting is allowed and interesting) some minutes and saw no note or coin entering or leaving.

Nah! I need to review my concepts.

​Kun Iam 

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Statue
The Kun Iam is a statue, 20 meters high, that was founded in a famous foundry in Nanjing, China and was transported to the Center in Macau to be set-up. 
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The project of Kun Iam Ecumenical Center designed by a Portuguese Architect, Cristina Rocha Leiria, was planned for construction by Macau Government in 1997, while preparing the transition to Chinese sovereignty. The big Kun Iam statue, of 20 meters suffered several modifications, but it keeps an oriental look according to the eyes of an European.

A Ma temple

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Older than Portuguese colonization, “A Ma” temple was accepted by the Portuguese, and respected as a reference of Chinese culture and religion.

​Several pavilions climbing a steep hill are dedicated to different deities, attracting lots of Chinese devotes to ceremonies hard to understand by westerns.

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A Different Look

After being a Chinese reference under Portuguese government, the A Ma temple presents, today, complementary signs of Portuguese culture and history, in a crossed and very respectful interaction. 

It’s funny, the way that the same monument, working always the same way and respecting the same religion acts as a Chinese reference under Portuguese, and a Portuguese reference under Chinese.

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A world of Smoke

In some Portuguese churches (and mainly in Fatima) we are used to the continuous views of wax burning, with the resultant smell and smoke. In Chinese temples they “exaggerate”. 

The smoke is permanent and abundant, with mixed smells, but always turning the air hard to breed. In A Ma temple the rule is followed, but most of the smoke is produced in the open air, easing breathing.

​Camões Garden

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It must be a pleasant place to go in a hot day, this shady garden. Supported in a myth (the shipwreck of Camões, the top Portuguese writer of ever, in Macao coast and his struggle to save the manuscript of “Lusíadas”) this garden has a remarkable example of Portuguese cobblestone walkways surrounding Camões statue.

​Sorry we were there under a strong rain…

​Holy House of Mercy

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Created in 1498 , “Santa Casa da Misericórdia” is a still running institution for charity, that spread all over Portugal and colonies.In 1569, the Jesuits created a dependency in Macao, close to the “Senado”, that even after the transition to Chinese government still helps the poor.

​There are some interesting paintings inside.

​Leal Senado

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The “Senado” square is paved with a wave-patterned mosaic of coloured stones, created by Portuguese experts.

From the main road to the church of St. Dominic, the pavement extends to the ruins of St. Paul’s, making the heart of the city a pedestrian paradise.

​More than S. Paulo ruins, this square is, for the Portuguese, the real visual reference of Macao.

​St Anthony church

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This church stands on the site of a chapel founded in 1558, the first to be built in Macau.

The history of the present building is explained on a plaque by the door: “Built in 1638. Burnt in 1809. Rebuilt in 1810. Burnt again in 1874. Repaired in 1875”. However, there is a cross in the churchyard bearing the date of 1636. Another fire forced to another restoration in 1930 and further work was done on the facade and tower in 1940.

St Anthony is the Portuguese protector of marriages so the members of the Portuguese community selected this church for their wedding ceremonies. The sight of flowers was the base for the Chines name: Fa Vong Tong (Church of Flowers).