Macau. St Lazarus
The grid of streets around St. Lazarus’ Church seems to receive far less tourists than Senado Square and St. Paul’s Ruins. The area is also not a part of the World Heritage Site core zone. I reached it from Tap Seac Square and first headed to the lovely St. Michael’s Cemetery.
The graveyard is guarded by a beautiful mint green church built in 1875, St. Michael’s Chapel (Capela de São Miguel, 聖彌額爾小堂).
The melange of East and West is felt in many aspects all over Macau. But in this cemetery it’s at its most striking. Surrounded by all those Catholic tombstones, for a while I felt like being teleported to Europe. But then, I saw a Buddha on one of the graves! On another one there is Jesus, but he has an Asian face, sits among Chinese painting-like clouds and the rays casted from his heart remind energy beams in Japanese cartoons.
From the cemetery, I walked down the Eduardo Marques Street. The tower of the iconic Gran Lisboa casino building, south from here, serves as a good orientation point.
St. Lazarus’ Church (Igreja de São Lázaro, 望德聖母堂) is one of the oldest churches in Macau but was completely rebuilt in 1885.
Next to the church stand several interesting buildings, including the reddish-brown plus mellow yellow Conservatory of Music and the Chui Lok Chi Mansion with a facade of white columns and black balconies.
I explored the neighboring streets including Rua do Volong.
Then I went back North and walked next to two cultural spaces: the 10 Fantasia creative incubator and the courtyard of Albergue SCM, also known as Old Ladies’ House.
Ain’t the Bairro de S. Lázaro / 望德堂坊 / St. Lazarus’ District lovely? After passing Instituto de Acção Social I rushed a few blocks away to get to the tea museum before its closing time.
The Tea Culture House is located inside the beautiful Lou Lim Ioc Garden 盧廉若公園. It was constructed as a part of a private residence between 1904 and 1925, then restored and turned into a public park in the seventies. I am a big admirer of classical Chinese gardens and I have visited more than dozen of them in Suzhou and ventured to all of the “Four Famous Gardens in Guangdong.” Finding another lovely example of this form of art in Macau was a pleasant surprise. In accordance with tradition, plants, rocks, water and architecture meet each other in harmony. What sets apart this garden from the others is that the architecture here is chiefly Portuguese. This is equilibrated by the presence of some very Chinese elements, like the nine-turn bridge. It was not the right time of the year, so I needed to imagine the beauty of the lotus pond in bloom. It was also late in the evening and the daylight was soon gone – but I still had a museum to check.
I didn’t know what to expect from Macau Tea Culture House (Casa Cultural de Cha de Macau, 澳門茶文化館), but it turned out to be a really decent museum. It’s housed in an elegant Portuguese building painted beige and white. The stylish wooden staircase paired with two massive Graeco-Roman columns in the hall complete the colonial feel. So do the old etiquettes and menus on display. Some old teahouses are recreated here, together with short information about their original location and history. Other artifacts inlcude teaware. The “export tea paintings” are worth a look. Those postcard-size pictures depict the process of tea production on pith paper. They were made for Europeans fascineted by tea culture. The infoboards are concise and well-written. I liked the emphasis on the local (Macau). One interesting thing is the fact that the museum hired some musicians to compose tea-themed songs to be played at the giftshop.
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