After 466 years, Portugal handed back the city of Macau to China. It is small and museum-like, a fine example of colonial Portugal on the South China Sea.
The Fortaleza Do Monte is a typical Portuguese fortified complex strategically located on a hill above the old cathedral in the heart of the city. Its many old canons and mighty fortress walls are reminders of those times when invasion was a constant threat.
The old centre of the city is the triangular Largo Do Senado, Senate Square. Its wonderful colonial buildings with their light-colored facades were built at the end of the 19th century and completely renovated in the final decade of the 20th.
Macau’s largest Buddhist temple, Templo de Kun Iam Tong, dates back 400 years to the Ming Dynasty when its original foundations were built. Beyond its main gate, just off a busy street in the north of the city, is a peaceful oasis of silence and contemplation, a mystic place in which stone lions, golden Buddhas and all who visit are surrounded by serene, aromatic wisps of smoke.
The beautiful Jardim de Lou Lim Ioc Park is situated in the northern less touristy business district of the city. It was designed in the 19th century by a wealthy Chinese trader, Lou Kau. This marvelous oasis is an idyllic setting with a lotus pond, rocks, grottos and waterfalls.
Excursions are available on restored motorized junks that leave from the City’s harbor several times a day.
Taipa is the larger of the two islands that belong to Macau. The tangled and narrow alleys in the centre of Vila da Taipa abound with rural character and Portuguese street signs are painted on azulejos. The island’s shops and light-colored houses would be equally at home in Portugal.
Although the Macau of today has much contemporary flair, it continues to enjoy a rich colonial inheritance that is well worth seeing.