Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Cultural Side of Macau

Macau is extremely popular the world over for its casinos and its gambling circuit and this is what drives much of the tourism to this special administrative region of China. But, Macau’s equally famous and equally important tourism piece is its cultural side. A large section of the Macau peninsula is a UNESCO World heritage site and is deeply entrenched in rich Portuguese history through its ruins, churches, squares, streets, cathedrals, heritage buildings and Museums.

Ruins of St. Paul's at Macau
The best way to enjoy this cultural beauty of Macau is to go on a heritage walk that takes you through most of the buildings and areas that have cultural significance. The best way to enjoy your Macau holiday would be to explore the cultural side during the day and the gambling side during the night.

Statue at St. Paul's Ruins, Macau
This will ensure that you set to visit all the heritage monuments that are open during the day and the casino shows that come to life during the evening and night hours.

Portuguese Street Food in action at Macau
If you are exploring on your own, it is best to start at Senado Square, a center point to this heritage stretch and home to most of the shops and restaurants. This square is closely located to the downtown area and hence easily accessible from most of the hotels in Macau.

Portgueuse Building at Macau
At Senado Square, you can see buildings designed during Macau’s Portuguese rule. My favorite way to explore this stretch is after having some special Portuguese egg tarts, Macau cookies and waffles. There are many shops and street vendors at Senado square where you can find these items.

Old Portuguese Church Building at Macau
After Senado Square, your next stop should be St. Paul’s ruins. It is also known as Sao Paulo cathedral and is one of Macau’s oldest and richest buildings in terms of beauty and history. This cathedral also has a small museum, which you can explore. After this cathedral, you can make your way towards the Macau museum, which is situated inside the fort.

Busy Senado Square of Macau
It is here that you will get a lot of information and insight into the colonial history of Macau. This is also one of the best places in this heritage zone to offer you a great aerial view of Macau town. You can see the casinos, the Macau tower, St. Paul’s ruins and also notice the stark difference between Macau’s rich and poor living standards.

Signboard in the Portuguese old town of Macau
Once you have got all your insights from the museum, you can stroll through the small heritage lanes that cut through heritage buildings, lanes filled with cookie shops and Portuguese churches with enough oomph to make you gape in wonder. For me, the Portuguese sign boards were a huge interest point.

Street in Macau's Portuguese Old Town
The best part about this Macau cultural experience is that you can easily cover all of it in a single weekend. You only use the days for this cultural trail and do the casino, gambling and shopping circuit in the nights. This means that you can plan a power packed weekend holiday from Hong Kong and return with so many rich experiences and pictures.

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