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The Largo Do Senado Historic Square

Written by GavinUpdated Jan. 12, 2021

Macau is a now a mega-resort and casino center, but before 1999, it was a small Portuguese colony and the Largo do Senado square was once the governmental center of the colony. It is listed as part of the Historic Center of Macau UNESCO World Heritage, and it is one of the best places to see the old Macau.

Other than hotel/casino areas, Senado Square is the place most visited by tourists.

Sightseeing Around the Square

The notable attractions of the square are its old buildings. But there are also notable Chinese herbal medicine stores just to the north of St. Dominic's Church that offer a good value in terms of quality, price, and selection.

The square is actually shaped more like a triangle with St. Dominic's Church sitting at the apex and San Ma Lo (Av. de Almeida Ribeiro) forming the base. The wavy black and white tile pattern gives a dreamy feeling.

Must-See Buildings

This square contains three buildings to note that are on the Historic Center of Macau UNESCO World Heritage list of about 20 buildings and several plazas: Leal Senado, Holy House of Mercy, and St. Dominic's Church. Also of note is the old Post Office is the first building on the plaza on the right side.

The Leal Senado Building is on the other side of the San Ma Lo Road from the plaza. It is the old senate building and dates from 1784.

The Holy House of Mercy is on the right side of the triangle.

St. Dominic's Church sits at the apex in its own little plaza. You can't see St. Dominic's Church from San Ma Lo Road, so you'll have to walk to it. It is presently open from about 10 am to 6 pm daily. It is listed 13th of Things to Do in Macau on TripAdvisor. It was built in 1587 by Dominicans and is the oldest church building in Macau.

MacauSenado Square

Tourist Facilities

The plaza would have a very old world look, but the Chinese signs and milling crowd of mainlanders takes away the Old World feeling. Tourist shops and a McDonalds now occupy the old pastel facades.

You can find the official Macau Tourism Board Office with free maps and information on the right side near the base.

Transportation to Senado

MacauThe narrow street leading to St. Paul's is often crowded.

Free hotel buses: The major hotels near the square such as the Grand Lisboa offer free bus rides from Macau Ferry Terminal. We suggest take a Grand Lisboa bus, go to the hotel, and walk down Av. De Almeida Ribeiro (San Ma Lo Avenue) for about 12 minutes.

Public bus: From the Macau Ferry Terminal, 3, 3A, 10, and 10A go to Senado. The small bus stop is just outside the ferry terminal building and immediately to the right of the main exit. The price is about 3 MOP.

Ferries to/from Hong Kong: You can take bus 3 from San Ma Lo to the Macau Ferry Terminal in about 10 minutes for 2.5 HKD. Fast ferries ply the route to/from Hong Kong in about an hour.

Nearby Attractions: St. Paul's and Monte Fort

See the Square and its buildings alongside the nearby Monte Fort, Macau Museum, and the St. Paul's Cathedral ruins.

To see two of Macau's main historical attractions, walk about 400 meters northeast along a narrow street to St. Paul's Cathedral (1627). Monte Fort is a few minutes walk from there. You can get a view of of the surroundings on the small plaza in front of it. Macau Museum in Monte Fortress is the best place to learn about Macau's history and the Portuguese era.

Tour Macau with China Highlights

MacauThe St. Paul's ruins are near Senado Square.

A visit to Macau is best combined with a Hong Kong tour. If you are coming from Hong Kong, we offer a One-Day Macau Tour from Hong Kong in which we'll facilitate and guide on on the whole trip.

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