Things to Do in Macau SAR
One of the most recognizable, dramatic, and popular icons of the city of Macau are the Ruins of St Paul's Cathedral. Originally constructed in 1580 by Jesuit priests, the church was twice ravaged by fire in 1595 and 1601. Not to be deterred by the loss, construction resumed in 1602 and ultimately grew into what would be the largest Christian church on the entire Asian continent. As fate would have it, however, disaster met the church once again in 1835 when fire ripped through the soaring cathedral for the third and final time.
Devastated by the blaze all that remains of the Church of St Paul are the 66 stone steps which ascend a steep hill and the intricately carved five-tier façade for which the ruin is now so famous. Carved from granite which was able to withstand the fire, the façade features a panorama of carvings which fuse traditional European Renaissance and Oriental artistic styles.
In a testament to the A-Ma Temple, it’s believed by many historians that the peninsula of Macau is in fact named after this very spot. An exquisite Taoist complex dating to 1488, the temple is dedicated to A-Ma, a Taoist Goddess of seafaring and mariner’s fortune. At the modern day entrance to the temple a stone engraving of a traditional sailing junk serves as a nod to A-Ma’s long-lasting connection to the sea. Also known by the names of Mazu or Matsu, the goddess has nearly 2,500 temples around the world devoted to her praise and worship.
Upon arriving in Macau the original Portuguese sailors inquired about the name of this newfound land. In a cross-lingual miscommunication the original inhabitants offered the name of the area surrounding the temple: A-ma-gao. From this point forward it would be known to the Portuguese as A-ma-gao, or, in its abbreviated form, Macau.
In few places throughout Macau are the colonial influences of European rule more evident than at the historic Church of St. Dominic. Set at the back of a lively square this Baroque style church is instantly recognizable by its pastel-yellow and cream-colored façade. It’s more picturesque on the outside than lively on the inside, and in an artistic touch the front of the church features green shuttered windows which symmetrically flank the three-story bell tower.
Built in 1587 by three Dominican priests from Acapulco, Mexico, the original chapel was ultimately destroyed and replaced in the 17th century with the building which stands today. Notable for being the first place to print a Portuguese language newspaper on Chinese soil (A Abelha da China: The China Bee), the Church of St. Dominic is better known for a violent and tumultuous past.
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.
When the Casino Lisboa first opened in 1970 it set the stage for the gambling legacy which continues to power Macau’s economy to this day. With the original 12–story building was spearheaded by real estate magnate and entrepreneur Stanley Ho, the 2006 addition of the Grand Lisboa brings the total number of rooms in the Lisboa complex to a staggering 2,362 rooms. Located in the Central Business District of Macau, the Casino Lisboa is the iconic, “original” casino of Macau which came to prominence prior to the recent explosion of neighboring casinos built on the reclaimed land of the Cotai Strip. Despite frequent renovation, the Casino Lisboa manages to retain its welcoming charm and avoids the ostentatious display some of the newer casinos thrust at their deep-pocketed, starry-eyed visitors. With the newly designed Grand Lisboa crafted around the style of a towering lotus leaf, the casino deftly manages to incorporate elements of both Portuguese as well as Chinese feature.
More Things to Do in Macau SAR
The Galaxy Macau, the self-proclaimed first Asian-centric resort in the city, is one of the largest and most impressive resorts along the Cotai Strip. The property opened in May 2011 and houses more than 2,200 rooms and suites, 50 food and beverage outlets, Banyan Tree Spa, a 350-ton white sand beach and a 43,000-square-foot (4,000-square-meter) outdoor wave pool. Even if you’re not gambling in the casino or staying in the property’s three different hotels, there’s plenty to keep you entertained within the Galaxy Macau, including luxury brand shopping and a 10-screen theater. In the evening, head outside to watch the Galaxy Laserama laser show, one of the biggest in the world.
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