Macau. Around Camões Sq
Camões Square (Largo de Camões, 白鴿巢前地) is situated a little to the north from the main touristy part of Macau. To get there from the Ruins of St. Paul, you pass a sturdy-looking church with a bell tower. It is the St. Anthony’s Church 聖安多尼堂. Its plain, grey classicist facade contrasts with the bright yellow baroque ones you see elsewhere in Macau. Looking at it, you might think it’s not as old as the others. And you will be somewhat right, as what you see dates back to 1930, when the last of the many reconstructions that this church underwent took place. The truth is that Igreja de Santo António is one of the oldest churches in Macau – it was first built around 1560, but that time it was made of bamboo. The first stone refurbishment was executed in 1638.
Look to the left from St. Anthony’s and you see the Camões Square. Both Casa Garden and the Protestant Cemetery, as well as Camões Garden can be reached from here.
Camões Garden 白鴿巢公園 is a pleasant green space named after Luís de Camões, a man considered Portugal’s greatest poet. At some point of his life he visited Macau and some say that he may even have written parts of his most famous work here, “Os Lusíadas” (“The Lusiads”, first published 1572). The heart of the garden is Camões Grotto, which houses a bust of the poet.
Built in 1770, Casa Garden was originally a residence of a wealthy merchant. Today it houses the local delegation of Fundação Oriente (東方基金會), a non-profit organization headquartered in Lisbon. The villa functions as a cultural center, with some ocassional exhibitions.
The Old Protestant Cemetery 基督教墳場 was founded by the British East India Company in 1821. Before, it was impossible for the Protestants to be buried with dignity in the Catholic-majority Portuguese colony. The tranquility and beauty of this little graveyard was a pleasant surprise to me.
To read more about what lies immediately north and east from this neighborhood, read my article “Macau. Beyond the Camões Square.”
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