/ The Hong Kong Guide
Hong Kong — By Jessy DB on December 16, 2009 at 2:19 am

Hong Kong Guide trip to Macau: St. Dominic’s Square and the ‘Acropolis’ (Part 1)

Last week I went on an impromptu day trip to Macau with some friends and family. It was the first time since I was a little girl that I visited the historic city outside of the renowned Venetian hotel and I must admit, it was quite the experience.

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We started the day off walking around St. Dominic’s Square (map), a popular tourist destination filled with busy vendors and shoppers scouring numerous souvenir shops, retail stores and yummy local delicacies, such as sweetened pork and Portuguese egg tarts. Free samples are handed out to anyone who comes along and I assure you, you won’t be disappointed.

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Part of the square along Rua de S. Domingos is St. Dominic’s Church (map) or Ireja de S. Domingos, which is located just by the junction to Rua de Santo Antonio (map). Founded in 1587 by three Spanish Dominican priests from Acapulco, Mexico, this church is where the first Portuguese newspaper, “The China Bee” or A Abelha de China, was published.

At the back of the church is the Museum of Sacred Art (map), which is open daily from 9am to 6pm and is free admission. The Museum of Sacred Art used to be the church’s bell tower and holds a collection of 300 artifacts.

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Along Rua de Santo Antonio is the historic Ruins of St. Paul’s (map)—the remains of the old College of St. Paul’s and the Church of Mater Dei, which included the Residence of the Jesuits, built between 1602 to1640. The Church of Mater Dei, St. Paul’s College and Mount Fortress were all Jesuit constructions and were considered the ‘Acropolis’ of Macau. A fire in 1835 destroyed all three but to this day the Ruins of St. Paul’s represent what was the first western-style university on Chinese soil and an altar to the city.

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Just outside the Ruins of St. Paul’s on Rua Horta da Companhia are the remains of the city’s old defense structures, built as early as 1569. A relic of early Portuguese traditional defensive walls surrounding port settlements, this area is a testament to the merging of local techniques and materials, such as a solid compound called chunambo, which is a mix of clay, soil, rice, sand, crushed rocks, oyster shells and straw crushed in consecutive layers.

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After marveling the view from the top of the Ruins of St. Paul’s and seeing the city from an almost bird’s eye point of view, we headed over to Mount Fortress (map) or Fortaleza do Monte, which was constructed between 1617 to 1626 as the city’s main military defense structure. Filled with canons, military barracks, wells and arsenal that contained enough ammunition to last a two-year siege, all 10,000 square meters of the fortress is a true masterpiece. Built in the shape of a trapezoid, the four corners of the fortress protrude to form barricades.

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Inside Mount Fortress is the Macau Museum, which unfortunately we didn’t get to see as it is closed on Mondays but open the rest of the week from 10am to 6pm (free admission).

I had quite an interesting afternoon in Macau and there’s still so much more that I need to share with everyone. This is just part one of my Macau trip so check back tomorrow for more!

For more information visit www.macauheritage.com

Photo credit: Jessy DB, The Hong Kong Guide



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