Macau's history is in its streets

ALTAR TO THE CITY: One of the most iconic historic sites within the Historic Centre of Macau is the Ruins of St Paul's, a facade of what remains of the Church of Mater Dei, which was destroyed by a fire in 1835.


    Nov 20, 2013

    Macau's history is in its streets

    A MELTING pot of culture and history, Macau embodies the coming together of the East and West due to its former Portuguese-colony status.

    The co-existence of the two cultures is evident in the Historic Centre of Macau, an urban area within the old city of Macau.

    Eight squares - such as the European-looking Lilau Square and Cathedral Square - and 22 historic buildings make up this historic centre, which is a product of over 400 years of cultural exchanges.

    This area was designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2005, making it the 31st in China.

    For finance manager Andrew Wee, a stroll through the streets there is akin to attending a history lesson on Macau.

    "I like how they conserved the old colonial buildings. They provide a peek into European style architecture while (remaining) immersed in Asian culture," said the 37-year-old.

    Having worked in Shanghai for the past five years, Mr Wee said he has been to Macau four to five times, and finds it a cheap and peaceful holiday destination.

    One of the most iconic historic sites within the centre is the Ruins of St Paul's, a facade of what remains of the Church of Mater Dei. The church was built between 1602 and 1640, and was destroyed by a fire in 1835.

    Nowadays, it is said to function symbolically as an altar to the city.

    Dr Yong Yao Siong's shot of the structure won him first place in the Historic Centre of Macau category of the Experience Macau Photo Contest, held by Singapore Press Holdings' online portal, AsiaOne.

    The 39-year-old doctor was in Macau on a weekend trip with his mother and brother at the end of last year. He said transport convenience is one of the things that stood out about the place.

    "You can catch a cab easily and it's one of those places where you can travel without a guide or tour group," he said.

    It seems Macau is also quite a hit with older Singaporean women, according to Dr Yong, who cited his mother as an example.

    "The casinos, food and especially the lack of a language barrier are huge draws for my mother," he said.

    History abounds in the city, which is also home to 20 museums.

    Mr Wee's photo of a riverside-market display won the top prize under the Museums of Macau category. He said the Macau Museum, while not grand or extravagant, provided a good insight into life in Macau from a past era.

    Located at Mount Fortress, the museum consists of two underground levels and a third above the fortress' top platform.

    Within it are many objects of great historical value which demonstrate the way of life and cultures of the various communities who have inhabited the city over the ages.

    Other museums include the Macau Grand Prix Museum, Macau Wine Museum and Taipa-Houses Museum.

    Another contestant, IT consultant Heng Jee Wuang, 39, said he is excited about taking his two young kids to the Grand Prix Museum when they visit Macau on Friday.

    "I think they will be excited when they see all the race cars on display," he said.