Macau. Coloane Village

Coloane village (Vila de Coloane, 路環村) is the main settlement on Coloane Island. Before the Portuguese arrived in the 19th century, it was mostly a fishing and salt harvesting village. I wanted to write “peaceful and quiet”, but that would may not be true as the island was for a long time notorious for being a perfect pirate hideout. The develepment of this area was boosted only slightly over the course of the 20th century, despite such improvements as victory over pirates (wich must have made it peaceful at last), building a causeway (which made it more accessible), and finally connecting with Taipa by land reclamation (which brought it almost at the doors of all those megacasinos). It is still full of old charm, so go visit before it’s too late.

I arrived and started to explore the village from a small square, Largo de presidente Ramalho Eanes.

One of my priorities was to drop by the Lord Stow’s Bakery, known for reinventing Portuguese-style tarts for Macanese market. Egg tarts 蛋撻, so famous in Guangzhou, Macau and Hong Kong, have mixed English (custard tart), Portuguese (pastel de nata) and local (dim sum tarts) influences. Now found all over East Asia, the best bakeries are frequented by masses of foodie pilgrims. Lord Stow’s is one of them.

After treating myself with this delicious little legend, I walked along the quaint Rua dos Navegantes towards the pier.

On the way, next to the Matadouro square, there is a tiny little shrine called Sam Seng Temple 三聖廟.

Closer to the pier, I passed a shop selling dried fish. It reminded me of the village’s fishing and salt harvesting past.

Next to the today sleepy but once busy pier, Ponte Cais De Coloane, still remain several houses built on stilts.

You can see China on the other side of the water. It’s Hengqin, an island that belongs to Zhuhai city.

From the pier, I retraced my steps a bit and walked further along the coast to get to the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier (Capela de São Francisco Xavier, 聖方濟各聖堂). Built in 1928 next to a square adorned with a typical Portuguese mosaic, it is one of the most beautiful churches in Macau. It is a popular wedding shoot spot, but that day was quiet.

On the square there is also a monument funded after defeating the pirates in 1910.

Francis Xavier, after whom the chapel is named, was an interesting figure. One of the most important Catholic missionaries, he was born in the Kingdom of Navarre in 1506 and was one of the founding members of the Society of Jesus – Jesuits. He visited a number of places in Asia, but his most famous missions were those to India and Japan. He died in 1552 on an island off the south Chinese shore, not very far from here. For some time his arm bone (humerus) was stored in this chapel, but it has been moved to Macau’s St. Joseph’s Church and is viewed in public there.

My next stops were Chinese temples located in the southern part of the village. First, I headed to the most remote one: Tam Kung temple 譚公廟, built in 1862. Among relics found inside there is a dragon boat made from a whale bone. Tam Kung is a water god worshipped mostly in Macau and Hong Kong.

As it was constructed around 1763, the oldest temple on the island is the Tin Hau Old Shrine 天后古廟. It has “old” in the name to differentiate it from the new big Tin Hau Temple that has been recently built on the top of Coloane Hill. Both are dedicated to Mazu. To read more about Mazuism check my article about the A-Ma Temple too.

The last place I visited was the small Kun Iam Temple 觀音廟.

For more articles click the Macau category.


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