Iconic architectural landmarks in Macau

By Vestigo Macau 
Photography: Amy Wong / Benny Wu / Louis Li 

A Unesco Heritage Site of more than 20 significant buildings in Historic Centre of Macau, streets and squares that bear witness to the unique cross-fertilisation of Chinese and Portuguese cultures in this corner of Asia. Unquestionably the most recognisable spots are European in origin: Senado Square, an iconic urban parade with its swirling paving patterns and pastel-coloured, neoclassical buildings and porticos; and the Ruins of St Paul’s, the ornate southern façade and crypts of a 17th-century Catholic church that was largely destroyed by fire in 1835.

Photography: Senado Square

Photography: Ruins of St Paul’s

But as demonstrated by the eclectic range of buildings in the vicinity such as the Fortaleza da Guia lighthouse, Moorish barracks and the Protestant cemetery, the history of Macau has been intertwined with many cultures across the centuries.

Photography: Guia Fortess

Photography: Moorish Barrack

Away from these historical landmarks, the densely populated streets of peninsular Macau (total area 9 sq km) offer little in the way of open space, so visitors prone to claustrophobia will take solace in the handful of gardens dotting the island. Camoes Garden’s 20,000 sq km expanse is named for Portugal’s most famous poet; the slightly larger Flora Garden contains attractive flowerbeds and a zoo; and Lou Lim Ieoc Garden is a distinctly Chinese affair with traditional landscaping, pavilions, bridges and ponds.

Photography: Camoes Garden

Photography: Lou Lim Ieoc Garden

Coloane, at the opposite end of Macau, makes another refreshing contrast to the concentrated urbanisation of the north – rather like hopping from Hong Kong Island to Lantau. On this largely rural island, which is ideal for hiking, the main village conjures a serene, nostalgic spell with its old Portuguese houses, narrow lanes, brightly coloured Chapel of St Francis Xavier and fine beaches, Hac Sa and Cheoc Van.

Photography: St Francis Xavier

Photography: Hac Sa

The mention of Macau tends to call to mind oversized, ultra-flashy casino hotels, big-name integrated resorts, or grandstanding showpieces like The Parisian Macao, with its opulent re-creations of French iconography, including a half-size Eiffel Tower.

Photography:  Parisian Macao

Designed to represent the spirit of Macau, Grand Lisboa is one of the landmarks of Macau. With its bold, golden exterior and opulence design, it was the tallest in Macau until the nearby Macau Tower was built. The plumes evoke a blossoming Lotus flower, the official emblem of the Macau Special Administrative Region.

Photography: Grand Lisboa

Morpheus hotel is an extraordinary project from the practice of late British architect Zaha Hadid, whose façade is like no hotel anywhere. Informed by traditional Chinese jade-carving, its interlocking lattice patterns are built around a steel exoskeleton, with three central openings dividing the hotel into twin towers connected by a skybridge. Befitting the building’s ultra-modernity, and its eponymous inspiration (Morpheus is the Greek god of dreams), the minimalist interiors bring a new level of chic to City of Dreams, with every detail meticulously selected for optimum sensual pleasure. 

Photography: Morpheus

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