Macau. Company Sq and Monte Fort

The Ruins of St. Paul’s 大三巴牌坊 are arguably the most famous landmark of Macau. The church, Igreja de São Paulo, was built in 1602-1640. The disaster which turned it into a ruin happened in 1835: during a violent typhoon, a fire commenced, taking down all but the facade.

The square in front of the ruins is called Company of Jesus Square (Largo da Companhia de Jesus, 耶穌會紀念廣場).

This is one of the most touristy areas in Macau, and is full of shops selling souvenirs and local specialties, including different kinds of cookies, dried meat (肉干) and Portuguese-style egg tarts (葡式蛋撻).

After archeological excavations in the 1990s, a crypt and a museum with relics were opened to the public. The crypt is a rather creepy sight, with bones of some martyrs on display. The admission to the Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt (天主教藝術博物館與墓室) is free.

Behind the Ruins of St. Paul is also a short section of what has remained form the old city walls and a small Chinese shrine.

The Na Tcha Temple (大三巴哪吒廟) was built in 1888. There’s a small exhibition room explaining about the temple and about Nezha (哪吒), a folk deity and a popcultural hero. You may know this guy without knowing it’s him, as he’s in toys, books and animated films all over China.

One side of the Company of Jesus Square is dominated by a hill topped with fortifications. Built in the 16th century, the Mount Fortress (Fortaleza do Monte, 大炮台) was Macau’s main military defence structure.

Inside the fort, visit the Macau Museum (Museu de Macau, 澳門博物館), the best in town. On its three floors, you will find information on local history, folk art and traditions. There are nice old maps, lots of city scene dioramas, religious artifacts, porcelain, puppet theater puppets, several videos… Infoboards are concise and objects are plenty, which is good proportions: less reading and more experiencing.

What made me especially fond of this museum was the ‘foodie’ section, with short descriptions about Macanese cuisine and a tableful of plastic recreations of dishes. There is also a tea section, with tea map of China, a recreation of an old school tea shop, and some pu’er cakes. A total foodie nerd won’t miss the video on shrimp paste making too.

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