Comments of the World Heritage Committee
Macao, a lucrative port of strategic importance in the development of international trade, was under Portuguese administration from the mid-16th century until 1999, when it came under Chinese sovereignty. With its fascinating streets, and residential, religious and public Portuguese and Chinese buildings, the historic centre of Macao provides a unique testimony to the meeting of aesthetic, cultural, architectural and technological influences from East and West. The island also contains a fortress and a lighthouse, the oldest in China. It bears witness to one of the earliest and longest-lasting encounters between China and the West, based on the vibrancy of international trade.
Centered on the old downtown area, the historic centre of Macao is comprised of 22 buildings including the Mazu Temple, the Moorish Barracks, the Mandarin’s House, the St. Laurence’s Church, the St. Joseph’s Seminary and Church, the Dom Pedro V Theatre, the Sir Robert Ho Tung Library, the St. Augstine’s Church, the Leal Senado Building, the Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple, the Holy House of Mercy, the Lau Kau Mansion, the St. Dominic’s Church, the St. Paul’s Ruins, the Na Tcha Temple, the Old City Walls, the Mount Fortress, the St. Anthony’s Church, the British East Indies Company, the Protestant Cemetery and the Guia Fortress, the Guia Chapel and the Guia Lighthouse, and six squares, namely the Barra Square, the Lilau Square, the St. Augstine’s Square, the Leal Senado Square, the St. Dominic’s Square, and the Jesus Square, as well as the Camoes Gardens. It is the oldest and largest historical city zone with the most complete and concentrated collection of Asian and western style buildings in China, a fascinating result of over 400 years of exchanges between Chinese and western cultures.
In the mid-16th century, the Ming (1368-1644) government setout a stretch of land in southwest Macao Peninsula on which the foreign business men, most were Portuguese, could live and engage in trade. An international city came into being as a result, of which the extant historic centre of Macao was the core.
Over 400 years have passed, but the old city zone where Chinese and foreign people lived together still maintains its original appearance and has been responsible for many “firsts” in China. The site of the oldest church and abbey, the oldest Protestant cemetery, the oldest Western-style mount fortress, the first Western-style showplace, the first modern lighthouse and the first Western university in China can all be found in the historic center of Macao.
Most buildings are characterized by a combination of Chinese and Western styles and the majority still maintain their original functions. Catholicism, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism and Matsu all continue to coexist here. The St. Paul’s Ruins is a masterpiece bearing testimony to the confluence of oriental and western religions.
The public bus Nos. 11, 22, 28A, 30, 33 and 34 ply between the Macao Peninsula and the Taipa Island. The public bus No. Apl will transfer you to the airport. Public bus Nos. 21, 21A, 25, 26 and 26A travel between the Macao Peninsula, the Taipa Island and the Coloane Island.
The local dishes are highly recommended, being broadly divided into those of Macao style and those of Portuguese. The former combine the cooking skills and ingredients of the dishes of Portugal, India, Malaysia and China’s Guangdong, and mostly improve on the original Portuguese dishes upon which they were based. The most famous examples include the African Chicken, the Goya Chicken, the Spicy Prawns, the Grilled Oxtail, the Portuguese Chicken, the Portuguese Sausage, and Sardines.
The Leal Senado Square and the Red Market are best places for shopping in Macao. They sell mainly clothes. In addition, there are duty-free shops and select shops. The duty-free shops can be found at the dock, Macao International Airport and the frontier.