Macau is a great example of a town that is equally mixed, East meets West. You can eat traditional Portuguese and have dim sum all in the same town. I like the fact that Macau has held onto it's history unlike Hong Kong which tears down anything over 50 years for the sake of "progress". And yes, there are some parts of Macau that could use some improvements but their love for their heritage is something to be admired. The Portuguese owned Macau until 1999 so it's just passed it's ten year anniversary underneath the banner of mainland China. They speak Cantonese and Portuguese in Macau. You will be hard pressed to find a taxi driver with great English skills and the buses are only Portuguese and Chinese so make sure you are paying attention and have your map handy. A lot of mainland tourists come over so in the past ten years there has been a huge improvement in those who speak Mandarin in Macau. All the Casinos have English speaking staff because of the tourists from Hong Kong so you'll know you'll have no problems once you enter the casino world.
On our historical tour of Macau, we did a church and temple tour. This is because I love to see Unesco Heritage Sites and Macau has many churches and temples with Unesco stamps on them. Seeing the equal appearance of catholic, and buddhist worship centers it really showed you the east meets west vibe of the city. Here are the top churches and temples we went to. (In no particular order.) I would also like to point out that we were there on Easter weekend which meant we got to see a lot of pilgrimages and it seemed super appropriate to see the religious part of town on this weekend.
1. Ama Temple
|Ama Temple in Macau. All dressed up for Buddha's Birthday!|
It is not the oldest temple in Macau, that belongs to Kuan Ian Temple (or the Temple of the Goddess of Mercy.) But the exact date of this temples building is not exact as it predates the building of the city and the settling of the Portuguese. It is the largest temple in Macau, the most holy and the most visited. It's kind of the city center for practicing Buddhists in Macau and although it's a tourist attraction not many tourists go as it is not close to the city center and requires a bus or taxi from the city center. (But it only cost about 20MOP to get there!) The temple is built into a mountain with several smaller temples being perched into the rock face the further up you go. You will see people buy incense at the bottom, make their offering and the climb the stairs and make an offering at every single one before they climb down. It's part of the sacrifice in order to receive the rewards. There are carvings in the rocks including chinese characters and things that look similar to frescos painted and carved into rocks. They are all very old but look like the paint has been restored within the last 10-20 years or so. There are also signs asking you not to rub the characters. I guess they worry about people rubbing the faces off the gods!
My mother and I bought a wish at the temple. It was made out of plastic straws and pinwheels and as the insence burns around it, it's supposed to take our wish up to heaven. There were wishes there from all over the world in many different languages. We asked for health and happiness for our family!
|Wishes from all over! I hope they all come true!|
2. Guia Chapel
Onto the architecture. This church is made almost completely out of plaster. There are no windows and the walls and floors are covered in plaster carvings and frescos from the early 1600's. You can only walk down the aisle to look at it and then exit it. There are no pews and the church is probably only 500 square feet but it is very beautiful and I hope you will go see it.
3. St. Dominic's Church
|St. Dominics, there is a good tea house across the street!|
4. St. Micheal's Church and Cemetery
|The older Catholic style headstones|
|The day we went someone left out the maintenance ladder access to roof! Mwa haha!|
5. Kuan Tai Temple
|Nighty Night Sleepy Monk!|
St. Joseph's Seminary
Ruins of St. Paulo
|St. Paulo, where every statue is different in the facade!|