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The Historic Center of Macau

The Historic Center of Macau

Written by GavinUpdated Nov. 21, 2023
MacauSenado Square. The white Holy House of Mercy is forefront right.

Tourists can have a quick tour of most of the major UNESCO designated buildings by visiting San Ma Lo Road, Senado Square, Monte Fort and the remains of St. Paul's Cathedral in about two or three hours. A quick tour in this area would be an enjoyable and educational diversion during your Macau visit.

The Historic Center of Macau is a UNESCO World Heritage listing of about 30 places and buildings in Macau that are highlighted for their historical value and are to be protected.

The sites include many firsts for China: the ruins of the oldest Western burial ground in China, the first Western military fort, the first Western theater, the first modern lighthouse, and the first Western university in China.

Macau was the first European colony on the mainland of Far East Asia, and these places witness the communication between the West and East Asia over the last 400 years. The contact of cultures is evidenced in the architecture. Western, Chinese, and Japanese architectural details merge together.

Quick Tour of the Main Sites

Recommended Sites

Macau street up to Monte FortTourists throng up and down this narrow road leading between Senado Plaza and the cathedral / Monte Fort area.

Of the 30 or so sites on the world heritage list, the recommended ones are all around Senado Square. We recommend Senado Square itself, St. Paul's Cathedral (3 of Things to Do on TripAdvisor 2016), the big Monte Fort, Leal Senado Building, St. Dominic's (13 of Things to Do on TripAdvisor), and the sightseeing around this area. The other old buildings and plazas on the list, though they may be interesting, aren't worth the time in comparison.

Going to Senado Plaza

The major hotels such as the Galaxy offer free bus rides to San Ma Lo (Avenida De Almeida Ribeiro in Portuguese). The whole avenue is a mile long or so, but just head to Senado Square for the highlights. Or take a public bus such as 3, 3A or 4 or a taxi.

The triangle shaped Senado Plaza has a black and white wavy tile pattern. From San Ma Lo Avenue, when you are facing the apex, behind you is the the Leal Senado (1784) government building and to the right is the white 3-story Post Office.

At the apex of the plaza is the yellow St. Dominic's Church (1587). It was built by Dominicans and is the oldest church building in Macau, but you can't see it from the road. It is open for visitors daily.

Going to Monte Fort

St Paul'sSt. Paul's Cathedral is just a facade now.

Then walk about half a kilometer or take a cab and go up to Monte Fort. You'll see the remains of St. Paul's Cathedral (1627). You can get a view of of the surroundings on the small plaza in front of it.

Then you can walk up to Monte Fort along the path leading up from there in a few minutes. Jesuit-built Monte Fort (1627) affords a good view of Macau and the night lights in the evening.

You can finish your tour of the highlights by visiting the Macau Museum in Monte Fort.

Tour Macau and Hong Kong with China Highlights

Macau Monte Fort cannon

You can tour Macau for a day from Hong Kong with our 1-day Macau tour with our guides helping to facilitate your whole trip from morning to evening.

Or let us help you plan a personalized tour.

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