After visiting the A-Ma Temple or seeing the Barrier Gate head back to a wonderfull hotel near the Macau International Airport that can help you rest and relax.
Macau is a city with two faces: the fortresses, churches and food of former colonial masters Portugal speak to a uniquely Mediterranean style on the China coast. And yet Macau is also the self-styled Las Vegas of the East. The last few years have seen once-sleepy little Macau booming.
Today’s Macau woos commerce and tourism like never before, taking a tradition of gambling to new extremes. While the proliferation of mega-casinos means there’s plenty of places to try your hand with Lady Luck, many of Macau’s pleasures are relaxed and laidback, architectural and atmospheric.
A-Ma TempleDistance from Macau International Airport: 10.0km
Macau’s name is derived from A-Ma-Gau or Place of A-Ma and this temple dedicated to the seafarers’ goddess dates from the early 16th century.
According to legend, A-Ma, a poor girl looking for passage to Canton, was refused by the wealthy junk owners but a lowly fisherman took her on board. A storm blew up and wrecked all but the boat carrying the girl.
On arrival in Macau she vanished, to reappear as a goddess, on the spot where the fishermen built her temple.
It consists of prayer halls, pavilions and courtyards built into the boulder-strewn hill and connected by winding paths through moon gates and tiny gardens. At the entrance is a large rock on which is engraved a traditional sailing junk. On other boulders are carved red characters invoking the gods or repeating a prayer.
Three of the four pavilions are dedicated to A-Ma and contain some fine statues of the goddess together with a model of a junk with cannons, brass vessels and chapels to Buddhist and Taoist gods. The top shrine honours Kun Iam. This temple is distinguished by beautiful tiled roofs and spectacular views from the upper gardens. The festival of A-Ma takes place on the 23rd day of the 3rd moon (April or May).
Firecrackers, to scare away evil spirits, are exploded in the entrance courtyard to greet tour groups and lions dances are performed here on weekends.
Kun Iam TongDistance from Macau International Airport: 7.5km
This Buddhist temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy was founded in the 13th century and the present buildings date from 1627. It is one of the biggest and wealthiest of Macau’s temples with a huge entrance gate and roofs clustered with porcelain figures. Separated by open courtyards are richly decorated halls dedicated to the Precious Buddhas, the Buddha of Longevity and Kun Iam, who is dressed in embroiled silk with a fringed crown (which is changed every year). She is attended by 18 Buddhas on either side of the altar. In adjoining rooms are funeral chapels and scrolls honouring Kun Iam in pictures and calligraphy.
Behind the temple are terraced gardens. In one is the stone table on which was signed the first Sino-American treaty on July 3, 1844, by the Viceroy of Canton Ki Ying and the United States Minister Caleb Cushing. Nearby is the marble statue of a monk in an ornate pavilion, and four ancient banyan trees with branches intertwined which is known as the Lovers Tree and a symbol of marital fidelity.
In other parts of the garden are fountains shaped like miniature Chinese landscapes, groves of bamboo and small shrines to departed priests. The festival of Kun Iam is celebrated on the 19th day of second, sixth, ninth and 11th moons.
Lin Fung MiuDistance from Macau International Airport: 8.2km
Built in 1592 and most regularly restored, this Temple of the Lotus has a fine facade of intricate clay bas-relief carved in the 19th century depicting historical and mythological figures. Stone lions guard the entrance. Inside is a hall with a statue of Tin Hau on the altar, flanked by the guardian generals. Beyond is a courtyard decorated with a frieze of writhing dragons, a lotus filled pond and fine iron brazier. The main hall is dedicated to Kun Iam, whose statue occupies an elaborate altar. Aside altar has a shrine to Kwan Tai. The temple’s ceiling is a particularly good example of the black beams and exposed white tiles construction. Lin Fung Miu is historically famous as the place where for centuries Chinese Mandarins from Guangdong Province would stay when they came to Macau. The most renowned visitor was Commissioner Lin Zexu, who spent most of September 3rd 1839 in Macau. He is honoured with a six-foot granite statue and a new museum in the temple courtyard.
Barrier Gate (Portas do Cerco)Distance from Macau International Airport: 10.7km
With the new underground passenger terminal, it is now more convenient for locals to travel to Zhuhai. Passengers at the underground bus terminal can reach the Border Gate Square through the linked escalator, elevator and stair case. 17 bus lines service the bus terminal with clear signboards and indications. Washrooms as well as public phones are also available at the underground bus terminal, while the taxi station is on the ground floor.
Erected in 1870, the European style Border Gate witnesses the development of Macau. The modernized Border Gate Square with fountains at the centre is surrounded by green plants. The blue tiles at the side walls together with the poem of the Portuguese Poet, Camoes depict the history of Macau.
Guia Fortress, Chapel, Lighthouse & Air-Raid SheltersDistance from Macau International Airport: 6.0km
A small chapel was first built in the 17th century as part of the Guia Fortress and the present chapel dates from 1637. During the restoration of the chapel in 1996, the oldest vestige of mural paintings that dates back to the construction of the hermitage in 1622 were discovered. The recovered paintings are characterized by rich cultural meaning, a combination of Chinese and Western symbols, including angels wearing traditional oriental costumes.
The Lighthouse was the first on the China Coast, built by a local born Portuguese, Carlos Vicente da Rocha.
On top of the Guia Hill, besides the already well-known structures, the Guia lighthouse, Guia Fort and Our Lady of Guia Chapel, there are also some underground tunnels, which are commonly known as air raid shelters, extending in all directions. The longest tunnel is 456 metres and the shortest 47. In the past the tunnels were off-limits military installations surrounded by barbed wire, equipped with electricity generators, rest rooms and oil tanks.