A peek into the old ways


    Jun 11, 2014

    A peek into the old ways

    IN THIS week's instalment on the walking routes in Macau, we take you on a journey to the past.

    On A Tour of Historical Trails, you check out attractions that offer a glimpse into Macau's colonial society and traditional way of life hundreds of years ago. It also includes visits to historical buildings in the city which have unique architectural features.

    So, it can be well worth your time to experience Macau and its past on this trail, which is expected to take just 100 minutes.

    This route covers mainly the area known to Macau residents as "San Ma Lou", and officially known as the Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro.

    Starting from the Avenida da Praia Grande, a main street along San Ma Lou, take a three-minute walk to the General Post Office, where musical bells can be heard from its block tower.

    In front of the General Post Office lies the Leal Senado Building, which was built in 1784. It was built originally for discussing official affairs, and is now the headquarters of the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau.

    Ahead of it is the Senado Square, Macau's urban centre for centuries. The square is surrounded by pastel neo-classical buildings, creating a Mediterranean atmosphere.

    Near the Senado Square is the trail's next stop - St Dominic's Church, which was founded in 1587 by three Spanish Dominican priests. At the back of the church is a small Museum of Sacred Art, which was converted from a bell tower. Some 300 religious artefacts are exhibited there.

    Moving on, take a short stroll and you will arrive at the Sam Kai Vui Kun, or Kuan Tai Temple. It was used by local Chinese merchants as a meeting place. But as there were statues of Kuan Tai - the Chinese God of War - and the Wealth God, believers also visited the place for worship and it was eventually converted to a temple.

    Proceed to the Heritage Exhibition of a Traditional Pawnshop Business after that, four minutes away.

    The building was completed in 1917, and gives tourists a peak into Macau's pawnshop business in the last century.

    Just a minute away is the Tung Sin Tong Historical Archive Exhibition Hall, where visitors can get more information about the Tung Sin Tong Charitable Society, the first Chinese charitable organisation in Macau.

    The next stop is two minutes away - the Carpentry Guildhall. It is the site of the earliest labour union in Macau, and was founded in 1840.

    By this time, you should be hungry, so head to the Travessa do Mastro or the Rua da Felicidade, a stone's throw away from the guildhall. These streets are lined with restaurants and cafes.

    After your meal, it is time to proceed to the Cheng Peng Theatre, two minutes away from Rua da Felicidade. Opened in 1875, it is one of the oldest theatres in Macau. It used to be the only stage in the city for Cantonese operas, but it ceased operations in 1992.

    Next, take a 10-minute walk to the Rua da Caldeira, the street of Caldeira Bay, which used to be a typhoon shelter in the North Bay of the Inner Harbour.

    Walk along that street and turn into the Rua das Lorchas, where you can visit shops selling seafood such as fish maw and dried oysters.

    From the Inner Harbour area, walk for two minutes to the Opium House. As its name suggests, it used to be an opium warehouse. It is now a clinic for charitable organisation Tung Sin Tong.

    Near the clinic is the pit stop of the trail, the Praca de Ponte e Horta. It is an open square along the Inner Harbour and offers a relaxing seaview to round up a fruitful day exploring Macau's history and heritage.