by - 10:00 AM

The pastel-colored neo-classical buildings, creating a distinct Mediterranean atmosphere have been a constant sight for us. We were at the Senado Square (Largo do Senado), a portion of the UNESCO Historic Center of Macau World Heritage, a widely-known tourist attraction and the gateway to other equally important landmarks of historical, religious and cultural significance in the country.

Our everyday itinerary includes a stop at the Ruins of Saint Paul.  I even don’t know why, maybe for lack of research or the accessibility to where we are staying.  Along the way, churches and buildings inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites surrounded by merchants and locals vying for space comprises its modern landscape.  Sans the sea of people, the charm of old buildings dating back years ago is a given.  The town squares from which commerce flourished, still serves its purpose, even at the present times.

Walking is inevitable in a tour around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Macau, China.  At times, there are steep ascents that would test one’s stamina and endurance.  As long as you are not carrying your luggage, the tour may or may not be a walk in the park.  It’s on a case to case basis.  As for me, I take refuge in the winter season and there’s less perspiration shed.

The Senado Square houses varied restaurants and shops. Santa Casa da Misericordia and the Macau Business Tourism Center front the Senado Square.  The Santa Casa da Misericordia literally translates to the Holy House of Mercy of Macau.  Aside from being a part of the UNESCO inscribed Historic Center of Macau, the building served as a medical clinic, orphanage and refuge for widows of sailors lost at sea during the early times.  Today, it serves as a refuge to thousands of visitors and aligned peddlers of varied merchandise.

Going further, branded merchandise sold on sale greets us, as we locate the famed Ruins of Saint Paul – iconic landmark of Macau.  A stall run by nuns caught our attention where ref magnets, key chains and other souvenir items are sold for a price less than those sold by vendors surrounding the square.  The said stall is beside the St. Dominic’s Church.

The church is listed also as one of the 29 sites that form the UNESCO Historic Center of Macau World Heritage Site.  This 16th century Baroque-style church can actually remain unnoticeable.  If not for the spare time, we could not have visited the church and go direct to the Ruins of Saint Paul. 

There are eight (8) squares inscribed as part of the Historic Centre of Macau.  Without even noticing they are UNESCO Heritage Sites until the further research made, we wandered and loitered at three (3), that is: Senado Square (Largo do Senado); St. Dominic’s Square (Largo do Sao Domingos) and Company of Jesus Square (Largo da Companhia de Jesus).

Senado Square

Company of Jesus Square
I am just glad I made solo pictures at the said squares as an addition to my compilation of pictures at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world, though devoid of any knowledge of their inscription at that time.

And the walk continues. A food trip ensued as vendors gave each passer-by a chance to taste test on beef jerky, cookies and other delicacies as gift to friends.  The alleys leading to the Ruins of Saint Paul are congested during weekends, though continues to be manageable.

There are alleys as well leading to residential houses but that was not our main concern, as we are determined to reach the Ruins of Saint Paul and nothing else.  But one thing noticeable is the fact that architectural designs of these buildings are a fusion of European and Chinese.

As soon as we reached the Company of Jesus Square, commerce and tourism was heightened.  We were at the foot of the hill leading to the Ruins of Saint Paul.  There are restaurants and coffee shops that surround.  Starbucks coffee shop was my specific destination by request of friends and for purchase of collectibles.  Ironically, Hongkong Starbucks card can only be purchased in this branch of Macau.  It’s a limited edition (a tip for collectors).

Then, a flight of stairs became our gateway to the Ruins of Saint Paul.  Another UNESCO Historic Center of Macau World Heritage it is.  I was even caught in the middle of a crowd doing selfies.  This is after all the new generation.    

The crowd never decreased in number.  As we get near the ruins, noticeable is the signage on the stone facade carved “Mater Dei”.  It means Cathedral of Saint Paul and what we are witnessing is a remnant of the 17th century Portuguese church.       

The façade of the said church is intricately designed that knowing its details made me appreciate the site more.  It is said that the carvings include Jesuit images; the conquest of Death by Jesus and at the very top is a dove with wings outstretched.  The next time you visit the façade, try to locate each detail.

After passing by the façade, a shrine is open with remains of the original pillars.  And that culminates our visit to the core of the UNESCO Historic Center of Macau World Heritage.

The Historic Center of Macau truly depicts on verbatim as to why UNESCO has inscribed the same as a world heritage: “with its historic street, residential, religious and public Portuguese and Chinese buildings, the historic center of Macau provides a unique testimony to the meeting of aesthetic, cultural, architectural and technological influences from East and West, and “it bears witness to one of the earliest and longest lasting encounters between China and the West, based on the vibrancy of international trade.”

And that I can testify.

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