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One of my favorite aspects of Macao is its geography. Due to its smaller spread, everything is easily within reach in the autonomous region on the south coast of China, which helps cut down the time spent traveling from one destination to another. This was particularly convenient during my trip, because I was able to visit more sites in one day, and I could do it all on foot.
To see the area, I decided to embark on a walking tour of some of Macao’s best-known historical sites, starting at Senado Square, part of the UNESCO-designated Historic Centre of Macao.
Senado SquareAlso known as Largo do Senado, Senado Square is one of the four largest public squares in Macao. Back when Macao was a Portuguese colony, the local authorities would review the troops during inaugurations in front of the Leal Senado Building (located at the far end of the square), which was erected in 1784 and previously served as the seat of Macao’s government. Like many of the other pastel-colored neoclassical buildings in the square, Leal Senado has Western features and is legally protected from anyone altering its facade. The square still hosts public events, including dragon dance performances and cultural celebrations.
Rua de FelicidadeIf clients are looking to paint the town red, there’s no better spot than Rua de Felicidade (“Happiness Street”), where the streets and buildings are actually red. Just a five-minute stroll from Senado Square, this popular attraction was formerly Macao’s red-light district and was said to bring “happiness” to many (hence the name). Today, the area is family-friendly and filled with many traditional Chinese shophouses converted into restaurants, guesthouses and souvenir stores.
St. Augustine SquareFrom Rua de Felicidade, it’s a 10-minute walk to St. Augustine Square, a cobblestone-paved area decorated with street lamps, benches and flowers that all reflect a traditional Portuguese streetscape. The square is also home to several buildings and sites that are part of the UNESCO Historic Centre of Macao. One must-see is St. Augustine’s Church, the first church in Macao to offer services in English and holds the annual Procession of the Cross during Easter. The yellow-and-white neoclassical church was built in 1586.
Sir Robert Ho Tung LibraryLocated at the other end of St. Augustine Square, Sir Robert Ho Tung Library (part of the Macao Public Library system) is one of the most notable heritage sites in the area. Constructed in the late 19th century, it was originally a private residence until it was purchased in 1918 by Hong Kong businessman Sir Robert Ho Tung, who requested that the home be converted into a library upon his death. The largest public library in Macao, the multistory yellow mansion with green shutters features Portuguese elements on the outside and Asian influences inside. It is also home to unique works of literature, including ancient Chinese texts that date back to the Qing Dynasty.
Dom Pedro V TheatreBuilt in 1860 as a tribute to King Pedro V by local Portuguese people, Dom Pedro V Theatre was the first European-style theater in Macao and was also the first theater in Asia to stage a performance of the Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly.” With its neoclassical architecture, the mint green-colored venue is eye-catching on the outside as well as the inside, with French doors, chandeliers and a grand auditorium that seats 300. These days, Dom Pedro V still entertains audiences with a variety of performances, along with live bands.
The DetailsMacao Government Tourism Office www.macaotourism.gov.mo/en