World Heritage Sites 1-5+ Back

In 2005, 30 sites located in the Historic Centre of Macau were granted Heritage Site Status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO). 


Collectively, they represent the largest, oldest and most spectacular concentration of European architecture still remaining in China today.


Extremely tourist friendly, 24 of the 25 sites are located in close proximity to each other, with a walking distance of only 35 to 50 minutes from the 1st site (A Ma Temple) to the 24th site (The Protestant Cemetery).  Only the 25th site (Guia Fortress) can be deemed somewhat remote, off in its own area on top of Guia Hill, Macau's highest point.


Here's a map I borrowed from the Tourist Office which highlights their location 1 through 25 in red.


Macau UNESCO World Heritage sites map


In my opinion, these 25 World Heritage sites are the soul of the city and should not be missed.  If you don't visit them, then you won't have seen the real Macau.


(The only 5 sites not included are squares located next to the principal attractions, largely secondary in nature.) 

1. A Ma Temple


Built in 1448, A Ma Temple was built in honor of Matsu, the goddess of seafarers and fishermen.  With a history of well over 500 years, the temple is the oldest surviving building in Macau.


exterior of A Ma Temple

A curious historical fact: A Ma Temple gave Macau its name.  When the Portuguese first arrived in the 16th Century, they asked what the name of this place was, meaning the city’s name.  The locals responded with the name of the temple instead -  Ma Gok, in Cantonese, or perhaps the name of the bay, A Ma Gau.  Either way, the Portuguese took their response and ran with it, naming the peninsula Macao.    


two women praying at A Ma Temple in Macau large rocks with Chinese inscriptions at A Ma Temple red prayer cards and good luck tags at A Ma Temple Macau

Location: Barra Square     Opening hours: 7:00 am to 6:00 pm

2. Moorish Barracks

The Moorish Barracks were built in 1874 by the Italian architect Cassuto, to house an Indian Police force from Portugal’s colonial overseas capital, Goa.  The force mainly kept watch over boats and shipping on the Inner Harbour, which used to be visible from the Barracks.  Overtly Islamic in its design, the Moorish Barracks is now home to the Macau Maritime Administration.


exterior of the Moorish Barracks in Macau woman in Chinese walking in the Moorish Barracks in Macau light with anchor insignia at the Moorish Barracks

Location: Calacada da Barra     Opening hours: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.  

3. Lilau Square

Lovely Lilau Square was the area where the early Portuguese first settled, since it was the city’s main source of natural spring water.  According to a popular saying, one who drinks from Lilau never forgets Macau.  While there still is a well there today, please don’t ever think about drinking the water!  Perhaps they need to change the phrase to: One who drinks bottled water in Lilau never forgets Macau.  


Lilau Square Macau during the day white building and water fountain at Lilau Square in Macau yellow and white building at Lilau Square in Macau

The Cantonese call Lilau Square "Grandmother's Well" and it provided excellent drinking water for centuries until running dry in the 1930's or 40's.  The original fountain, unfortunately, was taken away soon after.  One of my favourite places in Macau, I love the tranquillity of the square and the Old World feel.  


Chinese girl in white dress leaning over the water fountain at Lilau Square in Macau

Lilau in Portuguese means “Mountain spring.”


4. Mandarin’s House

Built around 1869, Mandarin’s House was the home of renowned Qing thinker and writer Zheng Guanying.  Utilising architectual influences from both East and West, the House is predominantly Chinese in style, but a number of outside elements also exist, most notably the grey bricks, Indian inspired ceiling and some of the archways and window openings. 


moon shaped gate at the Mandarin House in Macau main residential building at the Mandarin's House in Macau


Mandarin’s House is also becoming a museum of sorts, as many of the rooms contain exhibits shedding light on Zheng, his family, and the history of the building.



To view more pictures, please have a look at Trip Report II.


Location: No 10 Antonio da Silva Lane     Opening hours: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (Closed on Wednesdays)

5. St. Lawrence’s Church

One of the three oldest churches in Macau, St. Lawrence Church was originally built in the mid 16th Century.  In the colony’s early days, the shoreline used to be visible from the Church and it became common for the families of Portuguese sailors to wait there and pray for their husbands, brothers and fathers to return.  For that reason, St. Lawrence Church is known as Feng Shun Tang in Chinese, or Church of the Soothing Winds.

exterior of the St Lawrence Church in Macau interior of St Lawrence Church in Macau main altar of St Lawrence Church in Macau


The present form of the Church dates back to a reconstruction in 1846.  Neo-classical in style, it features the most beautiful stained glass windows in Macau.   


 stained glass window showing a man being taken away by Roman guards at St Lawrence Church in Macau  

Location: Rua de Sao Lourenco     Opening hours: 10:00 am to 9:00 pm  


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